Wednesday, April 13, 2005

they shoot cats, don't they?

wisconsin wants to pass a new law that would allow people to kill cats. when i first heard about it, i assumed that obviously they must be talking about mountain lions or pumas or some sort of huge cats that they consider dangerous: similar to how people out west freak out about coyotes and wild bears. of course, my answer to that would be you morons, you move into the animals' land and take it over, and you get upset because the animals didn't magically disappear? but i would be wrong there, because the proposed law isn't about killing big cats: it's about killing small, domesticated cats: housecats. fortunately, even if it passes, it isn't going into effect right away:

There will not be an open season on feral cats, no matter the results of Monday's vote at Wisconsin Conservation Congress meetings around the state.

Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Hassett said there are too many unanswered questions and problems associated with killing stray cats.

Statewide results were tallied Tuesday. Overall, Wisconsin residents supported a controversial plan that would allow hunters to take out wild felines that kill birds and other small mammals. Residents voted 6,830 to 5,201 for the plan. DNR officials said the plan passed in 51 counties, failed in 20, and tied in one.

The question asked residents in all 72 counties whether the state should classify free-roaming cats as an unprotected species. That would allow hunters to kill them at will.

i'm a bit confused what the dnr is actually saying here... simply that the plan hasn't passed yet? or that even if they try to pass the plan, dnr won't let them? i'm confused, especially by the wording of this paragraph:

If enough Wisconsin counties had voted yes on the advisory proposal, the issue could have been brought back next spring as an "action item." If passed then, it could have given the DNR permission to enact it. At least two upper Midwestern states, South Dakota and Minnesota, have allowed wild cats to be shot for decades, just like skunks or gophers.

all that "if they would have" wording suggests that the vote did not pass (though the numbers suggest it did).

speaking of "the numbers", the way this article talks about how "residents" voted, you would think wisonsin had a statewide election on cat-killing, and that only 12,000 people came to the polls. you must check local6's past coverage for a clear explanation that people had to go to their local county meeting of some organization called the "wisconsin conservation congress" in order to actually vote on the issue.

now, you couldn't just shoot any cat: you can't go into someone's house and execute their calico. the plan would only allow people to shoot strays, or "feral" cats. so what determines whether a cat is feral?

[Mark] Smith [a La Cross firefighter who proposed the plan] proposed that the state should classify wild cats as an unprotected species. The proposal defined such cats as those not under the owner's direct control or wandering by themselves without a collar.

clearly mr smith doesn't know much about cats if he thinks "having no collar" indicates that a cat is a stray. i know a lot of cat owners (and a lot of cats), and most of those cats don't wear collars. why not? because cats don't like collars and they tend to be agile and flexible enough to squirm out of their collars should anyone try to make them wear one. keeping a cat under your "direct control" is not exactly easy, either.

so yeah, non-feral cats without collars get outside all the time. my cat doesn't wear a collar; we try to keep him inside, but sometimes he manages to slip by someone, or even to open the back door by himself. and once he's out, he disappears for a few hours. i know he can take care of himself, so i try not to get too worried when this happens, but i can't help it. after all, he's a sick kitty (FeLV+), and if he gets outside and scraps with other cats, he can get even sicker.

if i lived somewhere like south dakota or minnesota, i would also have to worry about some asshole with a hunting rifle shooting him, too. while i'm normally very nonviolent, if someone fucking shot my cat, i would be tempted to get a gun of my own and return the favor.