Those numbers are why this April the Conservation Congress will be voting on a proposal to identify feral cats as an unprotected species in Wisconsin–basically meaning they could be hunted.I really find it hard to picture people going out cat hunting!
UPDATE: More here.
Sheri Carr, senior humane officer at the Dane County Humane Society, said the group has not yet taken a position on the proposal, but wants cat owners to abide by their local ordinances and not let their animals roam.
Shoot a neighbor's cat? "I would hate to think that tame, owned cats who happen to slip out would be at risk of being deemed a wild, unprotected species," Carr said. "It's a delicate (ecological) balance out there, but does that mean people should be able to shoot their neighbor's cat? Probably not."
Mark Smith, the man who brought the proposal, said he is not a cat hater and has owned cats in the past.
"They don't belong in the environment. All I want is for people to be responsible for them," Smith said. "If I catch a cat in the yard in a live trap, I should be able to put that animal down."
Smith added, "There needs to be something to protect the average guy. Cruelty to animals is one thing. Dispatching them is another . . . What I'm trying to do here is make a distinction between a domestic cat and a feral cat. Domestic cats are under the ownership of an individual. If you open the door and kick your cat out at night, you've changed its status."
Karen Etter Hale, executive secretary of the Madison Audubon Society, said the society favors education as the best solution to bird predation by cats.
"I'm not sure redefining cats and having an open season on them is the best way to address the issue," she said. "The Madison Audubon Society believes all cats should be kept indoors. We might make an exception for working farm cats."
The DNR is concerned about the killing of small mammals and birds by pet and feral cats, said Bill Vander Zouwen, wildlife ecology section chief for game management.
"We urge owners to prevent their cats from roaming. That's always been our approach, rather than ask for authority to let hunters shoot cats," he said.
O'Donnell of the Wisconsin Cat Action Team said Smith's proposal "is a callous response to cats."
"There's more humane solutions," he said. "We as citizens should step up and solve the problem humanely."
Though I don't think this proposal will be passed, I do think that the proposal can have a positive, educational effect. An awful lot of people let their cats roam, and don't seem to get the ecology angle -- and that's true here in Madison, where people think so highly of their sensitivity to environmental matters.
ANOTHER UPDATE: This made me laugh.
YET MORE: Alicublog sees into my dark, dark soul.