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Cat Hunting Controversial Conservation Congress Topic

By: Zac Schultz
By: Zac Schultz

It's a debate that is argued with both passionate emotion and statistical logic. Should feral–or wild–cats be declared an unprotected species in Wisconsin?

That unprotected classification could one day lead to a hunting season on cats.

The question will be brought before the Conservation Congress Monday night in every county in Wisconsin.

But unlike the U.S. Congress, anyone can attend and vote. "We've mobilized our hundreds of members and supporters around the state to attend hearings in every single county to vote against this appalling question that they've put out there about feral cats," says Alliance For Animals Executive Director Lori Nitzel.

Both sides have their stats. Feral cats in Wisconsin are known to kill 7 million songbirds a year, and cats are endangering certain species.

"I spend a lot of time out in the woods in my bowstand and I see a lot of cats. I know they kill a lot of cardinals and a lot of birds," says hunter Paul Wargowsky.

Lori Nitzel says killing isn't the solution. Catch, spaying and releasing is. "This is a ridiculous way to tackle an issue that we all know is a problem. Feral cats are a problem and sure they kill birds. But this is not the most humane and effective way to deal with it."

Jayne Meyer is a Dane County Delegate to the Conservation Congress. "I'm going to support it because I would like the issue to continue to be discussed. I would never have any intention of hunting cats–I own a cat myself."

Which brings us to the other argument–emotion.

Many cat owners wrongly fear a yes vote will lead to hunters breaking down their doors to shoot the family cat. "The domestic cat owners don't understand it and are very protective of their own pets. But it certainly wouldn't affect them," says hunter Jim Marks.

Meyer says she wants the public to get involved, but she hopes they stick around and vote on other issues like mercury emissions. "I do find it frustrating that many times its only when there are hot button issues that folks get interested. They come and they don't participate in things that may affect them to a much greater extent in their daily lives and their health."

The Conservation Congress Hearing is Monday night at 7 p.m. at the Alliant Energy Center.

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