Open Season on Cats in Wisconsin?
CHICAGO A proposal that would allow hunters in Wisconsin to shoot and kill feral cats is causing, well, a hissy fit.
"It's entirely cruel behavior to have an open season on cats. Just because a cat doesn't have a collar doesn't mean a cat has no owners," said Jessica Frohman, community outreach and policy coordinator for Alley Cat Allies, a group which espouses no-kill methods of controlling wild felines.
Opposition is coming in "from all over the country ... surprise, shock, horror," added Adam Bauknecht who along with others has put up a Wisconsin-based Web site calling attention to the issue.
The site -- http://www.dontshootthecat.com -- drew 35,000 hits Monday alone and has received more than 800 e-mails since it was activated three days ago, Bauknecht told Reuters Tuesday.
At issue is an advisory question that is among dozens to be aired in public debate next month at wildlife-related meetings in all of Wisconsin's counties.
The Wisconsin Conservation Congress which conducts the sessions uses them to give advice to state regulators on such weighty matters as changing the date for applying for a bear hunting license to banning electronic decoys in turkey hunting.
The cat proposal, simply put, would reclassify free roaming, domestic feral cats as an "unprotected species" that could then be shot by anyone with a license to hunt small game. The rationale is that wild cats prey on songbirds in disproportionate numbers.
Not so, says Frohman of the Maryland-based Alley Cat group. Man is a far worse predator, she said, with skyscrapers and other man-made structures killing countless migrating wild birds in collisions each year.
The true solution to the country's millions of feral city and country cats, she said, is to trap them, have them spayed or neutered and then released back into the wild. Killing them, she said, only causes colonies of existing cats to expand in size to take up the territory of those that have been eliminated.
Bauknecht, who works at MadCat Pet Supplies in Madison, Wisconsin, said the chances are very slim that the cat proposal would ever be adopted by the state's Department of Natural Resources, even if it gets backing from citizens attending the meetings in April.
"But we're not taking any chances," he said."When this is resolved we're going to pursue trying to build a statewide network for cat spaying trap-and-releases. We want to use this as a jumping off point.
The cat hunting proposal had its origin with Mark Smith of La Crosse, Wisconsin, who could not be reached for comment. He said in an interview published in the La Crosse Tribune recently that he was not anti-feline but "If you open the door and kick your cat out at night you've changed its status."