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Firefighter seeks law legalizing hunting of stray cats

March 7th, 2005, 05:20 PM
MADISON, Wis. - Hunter Mark Smith welcomes wild birds on to his property, but if he sees a cat, he thinks the "invasive" animal should be considered fair game.

The 48-year-old firefighter from La Crosse has proposed that hunters in Wisconsin make free-roaming domestic cats an "unprotected species" that could be shot at will by anyone with a small-game license.

His proposal will be placed before hunters on April 11 at the Wisconsin Conservation Congress spring hearings in each of the state's 72 counties. advertisement

"I get up in the morning and if there's new snow, there's cat tracks under my bird feeder ... I look at them as an invasive species, plain and simple," Smith said.

Smith's proposal has horrified cat lovers, but is seen by others as a way to stop cats from killing wild birds.

University of Wisconsin-Madison wildlife ecology professor Stanley Temple, who trapped more than 100 cats and analyzed their stomach contents during a four-year study, has estimated that between 7.8 million and 219 million birds are killed by rural cats in Wisconsin each year.

"It's obviously a very controversial proposal," Temple said, but added, "I think there really is a basis for having a debate about it."

The Conservation Congress is a five-member elected body whose duty is to advise the Department of Natural Resources and the Legislature on natural resources issues.

DNR attorney Tim Andryk said the vote would simply be "an advisory recommendation" to state lawmakers.

"We (the DNR) don't have authority to regulate domestic animals. Legislation would have to be passed to accomplish this," Andryk said. "You might also have to amend laws relating to abuse of domestic animals."

But Temple said he thinks legislation is not needed. He said the department does have the authority to declare rural cats an unprotected species - because unclaimed cats can be considered non-native wildlife species like house mice, Norway rats, pigeons and starlings.

"If they are not a pet, if somebody doesn't claim ownership, they become a non-native wildlife species and not entitled to protection by the state," he said.

Cat enthusiasts Cheryl Balazs, Ted O'Donnell and Adam Bauknecht are trying to organize opposition to Smith's proposal. O'Donnell, a co-owner of MadCat Pet Supplies, recently set up a Web site,, to inform people about it.

O'Donnell said Smith's proposal "is a callous response" to the problem of cats preying on wild birds.

"There's more humane solutions," he said. "We as citizens should step up and solve the problem humanely."

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.

"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."

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March 7th, 2005, 05:35 PM
I think Mark smith should be considered fair game :evil:

If Wis. DNR is so concerned about area wildlife, ,maybe they should offer a free spay nueter clinic !!! Now there's an idea!

If the cat population could be controlled, there wouldn't be as many unwanted cats on the loose, and eventually there would be no unwanted cats at all.

March 8th, 2005, 08:28 AM
I have 3 bird-feeders and love"my"birds and also have 3 cats,of course they don't roam free,I take them outside with me,but their favourite spot is definetly under the bird-feeder.....however the only birds they ever catch are already dead ones :D
Cats are also not the only animal preying on birds,I have a couple of beautiful resident Hawks,keeping the population many other wild animals.
I believe this"birdloving hunter"just gets a thrill from killing,I can just invision everyone out in their backyard with a gun laying in wait for an innocent cat,nice neighborhood :evil:
Although I agree,cats should not be roaming free,but to me that is for the cats own protection,because I love them.
Pesticide and other chemicals we release are killing more birds than any cat cat!!! One summer I had sparrows going blind,their eyes were literally burned out and I picked up dead and dying birds every day,the reason was lets shoot everyone still using pesticide(kidding!!!)..

March 8th, 2005, 08:48 AM
I am not sure what the world is coming to,I think i might just pack it in and move to Fiji or any tropical island,,

March 8th, 2005, 10:31 AM
I'm not a hunter, and I don't advocate it, but is this any worse than someone shooting wildlife they see as pests? Just curious.

I think that this is really someone who is fed up with cats running at large. The proper authorities could probably go a long way towards alleviate the problem and avoiding anyone taking such (in my opionion) awful and extreme actions.