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Cat curfew: German town ends cat lockdown to relief of owners facing €50,000 fines

Cats in Walldorf were only allowed out while accompanied and on a leash
Cats in Walldorf were only allowed out while accompanied and on a leash   -   Copyright  Pixabay
By Euronews

Pet owners in a southwest German town have been allowed to let their cats outdoors again after a temporary curfew was lifted.

Authorities in the town of Walldorf introduced the measure in May to protect a rare bird during its breeding season.

But the unique lockdown ended two weeks ahead of schedule on Monday.

Why was there a cat curfew in Germany?

The cat curfew was designed to help save the Crested Lark, whose population in Western Europe has declined sharply in recent decades.

Owners risked a fine of €500 if their cat was found roaming freely outside without a leash. They faced a further penalty of up to €50,000 if their pet injured or killed a crested lark.

"Due to this year's weather conditions, the breeding and development of the young crested lark is already so far advanced," authorities in the region of Rhine-Neckar said in a statement.

"This year, a good two weeks earlier than predicted, no significant danger to the young birds from free-roaming cats is to be expected."

Ali Çobanoğlu / Getty Images
The crested lark is endangered in Walldorf, Germany.Ali Çobanoğlu / Getty Images

Animal protection groups opposed the German cat curfew

The three-month order to keep cats indoors was strongly criticised by local and national animal protection groups.

“Suddenly preventing cats that are used to going outside from doing so, means immense restrictions and stress for the animals,” Deutscher Tierschutzbund told Euronews Green.

Will Germany's cat curfews continue?

A similar curfew is still expected to be introduced each summer until 2025.

"Outdoor cats are one of several factors with regard to the problem of the crested lark," local authorities said.

"But in Walldorf, they are not an insignificant factor due to the proximity to the settlement, which is why measures are also necessary with regard to the cats."

"Since the crested lark is threatened with extinction, cats pose a particular threat and the measure is suitable, necessary and appropriate."

Additional sources • AP