Wednesday, March 30, 2005

LEGALIZED CAT KILLING?

A hunter has proposed legalizing cat killing in the state of Wisconsin. Wanton cat killing is not a new idea; the persecution of cats has been going on for centuries. It has a history going back to 16th century France where townspeople would burn cats alive in a sort of communal bonfire. Cat-burning was considered a form of "entertainment," much like hunting is today.

The "Conservation Congress," an advisory group to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), is considering a proposal to permit hunters holding a small-game license to shoot and kill any cat they see who is not wearing a collar.

The stupid and barbaric persecution of cats survives to this day. Ted Nugent claims to kill every cat that he sees (but he can't kill my cat). In Ted Nugent's book "God, Guns and Rock 'n Roll," Nugent states that "sportsmen" were killing cats in the 1970's, and they somehow "knew instinctively" that feral dog and cat populations were at "epidemic proportions." Some of these cats and dogs, most likely, were considered pets at one time.

Dr. Neal Barnard of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine wrote: "We project our own aggressive impulses onto animals. Cats are sometimes viewed as sneaky or aloof, probably because their facial muscles allow less expression, compared to dogs or primates. It is not as obvious what they are actually feeling. Those people for whom hostility is a major issue may tend to imagine it in cats, or project their aggressive impulses onto cats. People who torture animals victimize cats much more frequently than dogs. And because of the association of felines with the female, men who behave violently toward women are likely to have abused cats, too."

Domestic cats are not a threat to ecosystems, nor are they a serious threat to bird populations. Hunters are a much greater despoiler of ecosystems than cats will ever be. Hunters enjoy killing all sorts of animals: coyotes, cougars, foxes, rabbits, deer, elk, ducks, geese, cats . . . the list goes on and on. Entire ecosystems have been altered and damaged by hunting.

Ranching too, has ruined tens of millions of acres in the Western United States. Ranchers can and will shoot a wide variety of wild animals for sport, fun, or whatever reasons they can conjur. Ranchers can and will shoot stray dogs whom they believe might harass their livestock. Killing animals, apparently, is a preferred lifestyle for some people.

With hunters killing 150 million animals in the United States, and wounding countless more, wildlife killers should be pleased with their carnival of carnage. But no! Killing cats is on their menu of animals that need a good slaughtering . . . they wouldn't want to overlook a potential fun target.

Speaking of killing stray cats, I found in my files an article from Outdoor Life magazine (Feb., 2001) promoting the idea of shooting mustangs and burros to increase bighorn sheep and mule deer populations. If hunters truly want to increase bighorn sheep and mule deer herds, they should STOP HUNTING these animals and spend their hunting license money on restoring habitat. Here's a portion of the article from Outdoor Life:

"In 1971, Congress passed the Wild and Free-Roaming Horse and Burro protection Act, reacting to the unregulated slaughter of these animals for the pet-food market. But the legislation hand-cuffed state wildlife agancies from managing these two introduced species. Now California hunting groups are asking the managers of the East Mojave National Preserve to institute a feral burro hunting program to manage burros rather than waste money with capture - and - relocation efforts."

Leave it to those caring, conservation-minded sportsmen to hatch a shameless scheme that includes shooting wild burros. There seems to be a nagging fear among hunters that they're overlooking a potential living target. It isn't enough that they shoot at mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, jackrabbits, coyotes, prairie dogs and God knows what else.

The stray cat epidemic is actually a human- caused problem; it is humans who breed cats and abandon them, and it is humans who want to kill a problem they created. The idea and practice of killing cats highlights just how vicious human beings can be, especially when animals are involved.

Also, consider that stray cats make excellent pets. Once a so-called "feral cat" becomes adopted by a decent, caring human, the cat may be tamed to a considerable degree, although spaying or neutering is necessary. Contrary to what some people will claim, feral cats are not irreversibly wild. And even if they are wild, what sort of sick cookie wants to shoot them? What's next, the family dog? Hamsters? Is there any animal that is safe from humans?

In every city and town, a percentage of people will be unwilling to peacefully co-exist with cats, dogs, and/or wildlife. Animal killers and animal haters eagerly respond in favor of lethal control; they love to rationalize killing animals.

MYTHS ABOUT STRAY CATS

According to the National Audubon Society, bird populations are, indeed, declining thoughout the nation, but the cause is not feral cats. A State of the Birds report in the September/October 2004 issue of Audubon Magazine found that the most serious threats to birds are "the outright loss of habitat due to poor land use, the clear-cutting of forests, the draining of wetlands, and sprawl." Other threats include climate change, air and water pollution, pesticides, and collisions with buildings, towers, and wind turbines.

In other words, humans - not feral cats - are the biggest bird killers.

Another myth is that cats are a major source of rabies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cats account for 2 percent and 4 percent of reported rabies cases in the United States. According to the CDC's Web site, 36 people died from rabies in the United States between 1990 and 2001. Of those cases, nine sources of the rabies could be confirmed and none of them was from cats. - By Scott Palczak