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.
Wild cats are seen as a pest in some areas because they hunt rodents and songbirds.
Feral cats arent currently listed as protected or unprotected, said Conservation Congress Delegate Wally Seibel. All were trying to do tonight is to give people a chance to voice their opinion on the issue, this isnt about a cat hunting season.
Free-roaming feral cats are described as any domestic type cat which is not under the owners direct control, or whose owner has not placed a collar on such a cat showing it to be their property.
At least two other upper Midwestern states, South Dakota and Minnesota, allow wild cats to be shot - and have for decades. Minnesota defines a wild, or feral, cat as one with no collar that does not show friendly behavior, said Kevin Kyle with that state's Department of Natural Resources.
For many in the audience, listing all cats that meet this description as unprotected seemed extreme and impractical.
People everywhere love cats, said Jon Tracy of Fond du Lac. If we make then unprotected and allow them to be hunted, Im afraid something really tragic could happen.
Others in attendance at the meeting were in disagreement and felt that an unprotected listing would better serve local communities and other species of animals.
One speaker pointed out that many farmers rely on outdoor cats to rid the area of problem-causing rodents. Another was worried about the future of her pet cat if it ever escaped her home.
Some supporters of the question said that while cats can make good companions, they need to be kept in the proper environment.
Some believed that the feral feline issue didn?t belong at the meeting at all, and that the issue should be discussed in a more wide-reaching manner, rather than by hunters and conservationists.
Cats are not a game species and this is exactly what the anti-hunting community would want us to do to them,?said Paul Diederichs. If we go through with this, the hunting public is going to be left with a huge black eye the first time a 6-year-old girl's kitty gets shot by mistake.