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Why Q62 matters...Here

Analysis of the Stan Temple Study

Q. Please explain this proposal and its implications.

A. Here is the wording of Question 62 taken from The DNR website:

Question 62 - Feral Cats

Studies have been done in Wisconsin concerning effects of free roaming feral domestic cats.These studies showed free roaming feral domestic cats killed millions of small mammals, song and game birds. Estimates range from a minimum of 47 million up to 139 million songbirds are killed each year. Free roaming feral domestic cats are not a native species in Wisconsin. The above mentioned cats do however kill native species therefore reducing native species.

At present free roaming feral domestic cats are not defined as a protected or unprotected species. Thus Wisconsin should move to define free roaming feral domestic cats, as any domestic type cat which is not under the owner's direct control, or whose owner has not placed a collar on such cat showing it to be their property. All such defined free roaming feral domestic cats shall be listed as an unprotected species. In so doing Wisconsin would be defining and listing free roaming feral domestic cats.

62. Do you favor the DNR take steps to define free roaming feral domestic cats by the  previously mentioned definition and list free roaming domestic feral cats as an unprotected species?

Here is the definition of Unprotected (taken from the 2004 Small Game Hunting Regulations pamphlet).

Unprotected Wild Animals
The following wild animals are designated unprotected. No closed season, bag limit, size limit or possession limit applies to these animals:

• Opossum, skunk and weasel.
• Starlings, English sparrows, coturnix quail and chukar partridge.
• Any other wild animal that is not a Game Animal, Game Bird,
  Game Fish, Fur-bearing Animal, Protected Wild Animal,
  or Endangered or Threatened Species.

By defining feral, free-roaming cats as unprotected, it would become legal to hunt them year round, with no bag limit. "Feral, free-roaming cats" would be defined as: any domestic type cat which is not under the owner's direct control, or whose owner has not placed a collar on such cat showing it to be their property. This means that any cat that is outside unattended, with no collar, could be hunted.

This is our interpretation based on the wording of the proposal and the definition of Unprotected. If you have reason to believe that it is inaccurate, please send your argument and supporting documentation here.

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Q. "Indoor-only" cats are safe, right?

A. Check with any animal shelter that takes in strays and you’ll see that many "owned" cats arrive there without collars on. Well-made collars are designed to come off easily to prevent accidental hanging. You probably know someone who keeps their cats in, but has had escapees. No, your indoor-only cat is not necessarily safe.

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Q. I live in a city where it’s illegal to fire a gun; my cat should be safe, right?

A. Though this is the Don’t Shoot the Cat campaign, it might be better called a ‘Don’t Hunt the Cat’ campaign. Each municipality has ordinances regarding how animals can be ‘humanely’ disposed of. As an example, in the City of Madison, though firing a gun is illegal, it would be legal to live trap a feral cat and kill it by drowning (a ‘humane’ method, according to the Madison Department of Health). So, no, living in a municipality with a firearms law does not make your cat safe. (Note, we are not endorsing drowning as a 'humane' method of killing an animal. We point this out only to show that in some places, it would be legal to kill a cat by drowning).

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Q. How does a proposal become a regulation?

A. The DNR Conservation Congress Spring Hearings are a forum for the DNR to get input from the Hunters' Lobby (Conservation Congress) about issues that are important to them. The results are passed along to the Natural Resources Board, the policymaking board for the DNR.

While an affirmative vote does not guarantee that the changes will come to pass, it is important to send a very clear message to the DNR that listing any cats as unprotected is unacceptable. Keep in mind that most of the citizens of Wisconsin were opposed to having a Mourning Dove Hunting Season, yet this was created based in part on the results of the Conservation Congress Spring Hearings.

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Q. What can I do to stop this proposal?

A. Check our Act page. The most important thing you can do is to attend the DNR Conservation Congress Spring Hearings on April 11th at 7pm. This is an issue that will affect the entire state. Every county in the state holds a meeting at that time.To find out where the meeting for your county is, check here.

Also, tell your friends about this. Tell everyone about this. There need to be as many people as possible at the Spring Hearings to vote against this proposal. We are hoping to find at least one person in each county to act as a County Coordinator. This person would be responsible for being a contact point for interested parties in their county, as well as helping to create support for attendance at the Hearings. If you or someone you know are interested, please let us know.

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Q. I would like to support your efforts financially. How can I do that?

A. Please send all contributions to:
Don’t-Shoot-The-Cat Campaign
PO Box 2376
Madison, WI 53701-2376

Make Checks payable to: WisconsinCAT. We will spend all contributions to defeat Q62. The earlier we get support, the more effective it will be. Anything we receive too late to spend on the DSTC campaign will support the ongoing work of WisconsinCAT in support of the domestic cats of Wisconsin. We're all-volunteer and nobody gets paid. Resources are not wasted. So far the anti-Q62 response has been essentially expense-free, but that won't last forever. Some support would help.

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Q. I do not live in Wisconsin, how can I help?

A. If you can make it to Wisconsin on April 11th you can vote! If you can't make it, keep spreading the word. We have gotten supportive email from all over the country and this issue is getting national media attention.

Please consider making a financial contribution to the campaign (see above). If your local media hasn’t picked this story up yet, contact them and tell them to get on the ball! This is national news that has implications for the entire country-we have gotten several emails from people concerned that if this passes in Wisconsin, their state will be next.

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Q. I’m concerned about songbirds. Won’t shooting feral cats help to control the killing of songbirds?

A. There is no research to support the idea that hunting feral cats will have a lasting effect on the number of songbirds being killed. If you know of some, please let us know.

(Note: We are aware of the research of Stanley Temple and John Coleman regarding feral cats. A careful analysis of this research has shown the conclusions to be based on dubious scientific methods and inappropriate extrapolation.)

Please read this article.

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Q. Isn’t there any other way to control feral cats so they don’t kill songbirds?

A. There are a variety of alternatives to cat-hunting. Trap-and-kill is the most well-known corollary to the concept, although far more humane. Modern approaches are being sought that meet a "no-kill" demand in the rescue community. One method that has been shown to be effective in reducing and/or eliminating feral cat colonies is Trap, Neuter and Release (TNR). Alley Cat Allies and Dane County Friends-of-Ferals are both advocates with a great deal to share on the subject. The ideas of relocating or containing populations of these cats is also being explored and implemented by a number of groups like the Best Frinds Animal Society.

Other ways of dealing with feral cats have been discussed, and no single tactic will work in all areas. The goal of the DSTC campaign is to defeat Q62 on the basis that far more humane approaches exist and need to be explored. After that has been accomplished, we will work in a public context to identify and support the most effective methods to solve the feral cat problem. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. We do know that hunting is neither effective nor humane.

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Q. But research says cats kill LOTS of birds. Why fight it?

A. We are not arguing that free-roaming cats kill birds. They certainly do. How many is very debatable, but that’s not the point. The question is ‘How do we decrease the number of birds that are killed by feral cats'? Removing the cats by killing or live trapping is not a long term solution. It will hardly make a dent in the perceived "bird problem".

Nearly everyone who has an opinion on this issue wants the same thing: FEWER FERAL CATS. Let’s work together to develop programs to achieve our common goal.

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Q. I have a lot of feral cats near where I live. Is there any help available for me?

A. Contact your local Animal Shelter. They might be able to help. However, TNR is still a relatively new idea and many shelters don’t have the resources to implement a program. Check the above links and send us your contact information. We’re creating a list of people around the state who are interested in getting involved with programs to help with the cat overpopulation. At the moment all we can really provide is information, but as time goes on we will be building a statewide network of feral cat resources.

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Q. Who put forth this proposal to define cats as Unprotected?

A. Mark Smith, a firefighter from La Crosse. During a radio interview, he cited several reasons for wanting to be able to hunt feral cats. He discussed concerns of preserving songbirds and encouraging people to be responsible with their cats (keeping them inside, putting collars on them, spaying and neutering). We agree with his goals but disagree with his drastic methods.

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Q. I’m a hunter and it sounds like you’re trying to take away my rights.

A. Q62 is designed to ADD an animal to the list of animals that can be hunted. If the proposal is defeated, no rights will be taken away. The DSTC campaign is focused solely on the welfare of feral cats. This is not about taking away anyone’s right to hunt animals that are already legal to hunt.

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