Feral cats, which volunteers have been feeding for the past 10 years, feed in Anoka, Minn. Feb. 21, 2005. A new Wisconsin plan would declare free-roaming wild cats an unprotected species, just like skunks or gophers. Anyone with a small-game license could shoot the cats at will, legally. (AP Photo/St. Paul Pioneer Press Joe Rossi)
"Songbirds make a lot of noise and wake people up. The world is better off without them" according to fluffy orange tabby Frisky, one of four feline panelists who offer their opinions on a variety of political issues from time to time at Laurence Simon's "Ask the Cats." Today's question:
What do you think about cat hunting in Wisconsin?
Ann Althouse, a Badger State resident, blogged the hot-button question a few weeks back, explaining that conservationists are worried about the ferals' predation of the state's bird population. But as hearings got underway yesterday, ailurophiles were not amused:
Feline lovers holding pictures of cats, clutching stuffed animals and wearing whiskers faced-off against hundreds of hunters at meetings around Wisconsin to voice their opinion on whether to legalize cat hunting.
La Crosse firefighter Mark Smith, 48, helped spearhead the cat-hunting proposal. He wants Wisconsin to declare free-roaming wild cats an unprotected species, just like skunks or gophers. Anyone with a small-game license could shoot the cats at will.
The ever fair-and-balanced Ann sees both sides:
I think feral cats -- non native predators -- really are a serious problem, but I understand the sensitivities of people who love pet cats. I do think pet cats should be kept indoors, and a lot of cat owners don't like to face up to that and are in denial about the problems their cats cause.
We'd been meaning to blog about this ever since Barry Johnson of enrevanche e-mailed us -- and the immediate catblogosphere -- the other day with links to an online petition to "Keep Domestic Cats in Wisconisin From Being Fair Game" (too late to sign up, but it looks like they far exceeded their goal -- lots of heartfelt comments) and "Don't Shoot the Cats," a clearinghouse for info.
And yes, we are torn and in denial as Ann suggested. Tiny and Baby aren't allowed to roam here in their own urban neighborhood (too much traffic) but have free run of field and forest at Goomp's, where their inner feral emerges full blown the minute they jump out of the car, and the paw pads touch the driveway. They flop down, roll over and stretch in sheer enjoyment of being a cat, then head off into the wilds, often to the sorrow of the local bird and rodent populations.
Update: Ann is on the case and thinks it's "basically bird lovers against cat lovers here, isn't it? Hunters are not the important factor":
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.
We don't know nothin' 'bout hunters -- the men in our family, while keeping guns, were against shooting animals, and we women were the type that wouldn't dream of hurting a fly -- but we love cats and birds, both, bigtime. When it comes down to the wire, we pop birds (not to mention squirrels, mice and other small mammals) out of cats' jaws.