Cat lovers and bird-loving hunters are girding for battle at tonight's Wisconsin Conservation Congress spring hearings, where citizens across the state will be asked to vote on whether stray cats should be hunted.
The proposal, known as Question 62, asks whether the state Department of Natural Resources should define free- roaming, feral domestic cats as an "unprotected species" that can be shot by anyone with a small-game hunting license. The proposal would affect any cat not under an owner's direct control or without a collar.
The proposal is the suggestion of Mark Smith, a La Crosse hunter who considers feral cats an invasive species. Smith received death threats last month after a Wisconsin State Journal story about his proposal spread across the nation, electrifying pet lovers.
His suggestion was quietly approved last year by the La Crosse County branch of the Conservation Congress. Subsequently, the full Congress, an elected body with the duty to advise the DNR and Legislature on natural resource issues, decided to put the issue before the general public at its spring hearings, which take place at 7 p.m. tonight in each of the state's 72 counties....
Joe Caputo, chairman of the Dane County Conservation Congress, said he hopes tonight's meeting at the Alliant Center is civil.
"It's a good forum to start a debate on this issue. As chair, I'm going to allow people to speak, as long as everybody can be constructive and civil," Caputo said. "But if it turns into a free-for-all, I'll call the question and we will vote on it and move on to the next question. Everybody will have 3 minutes to speak. We're all adults and able to listen...."
It's basically bird lovers against cat lovers here, isn't it? Hunters are not the important factor.
UPDATE: Here's a report on those meetings.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I still haven't seen the results of the vote, but here are some comments from Sissy Willis.