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Feral Forum update...
Since the very beginning of this whole Q62/cat-hunting mess people have hounded us with, "Well what's YOUR solution?"
The Feral Forum is our solution.
WisconsinCAT was formed to coordinate a response to Q62. If there already was a group capable of coordinating such a response, we would not have bothered. We simply would have supported that other group. That group did not exist.
Why is that?
In a super-general sense, most organizations that are considered to be addressing the problems faced by cat overpopulation are incremental in their approaches to animal-welfare and often differentiate between the value of a "tame" cat and the value of a "feral" or "wild" cat. Farm cats hardly ever get mentioned, even though we have over 200,000 farmsteads in Wisconsin with an estimated population of over 1.2 million. Farm cats are on the edge of tame, rarely spayed or neutered, and often the parents of any feral cats we are to find.
If farm cats represent well over half of the free-roaming cat population in our state (according to Stan Temple himself), one must ask why these cats are not even a part of the discussion when it comes to reducing cruelty and overpopulation. Farm cats are not at all referenced when we try to figure out where these feral cats are coming from.
Generally we are told that feral cats are the direct result of hippy kids that throw unfixed cats onto rural farms. Wow. This is so far removed from the reality of Wisconsin's cat problem that responses like this are an attempt to divert attention from the obvious results of thinking that 1.2 million unfixed farm cats are celibate.
We're not saying that unfixed farm cats are the only problem we face, but if we want to see a decrease in the wholesale destruction of cats at the hands of humans in our state, we better be ready to face this reality. We also better be ready to deal with a significant amount of public ignorance and apathy on the subject.
That's exactly why we need to do this together as a team.
The point of the forum is to bring together groups and individuals that have an interest in revolutionizing our state's outdated and uncoordinated approach to confronting the harsh realities that so many cats in our state face on an annual basis. This forum is free and open to the public. This forum will be democratic in its approach and all will be free to speak and be heard. Many animal rescue and animal welfare groups will be attending and several are sending speakers. Still, we must acknowledge that all the King's horsemen have not gotten this done, to date.
The forum breaks out into three main parts:
The first hour (10-11am) will be a survey of where we stand on the facts. What is the current legal framework we operate in? What was Q62 trying to do and is this still a threat? What facts do we have in terms of how many cats there actually are in Wisconsin and what impacts they are having in different counties? What definitions are being used to describe the cats and how do they affect our understanding of the problems? We'll also watch a brief (10 minute) film clip that will reveal a great deal about the research of Stan Temple and the DNR with regards to cats and predation, the main reason that cats find their very existence being challenged. This first hour will be a dialogue to separate fact from fiction. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own set of facts.
The second hour (11am-12pm) will be a survey of the impacts that groups, organizations, and individuals play with regard to the treatment of cats in our state. Which groups are the most focused on the problems faced by our cats? What sorts of lines do they draw in relation to which cats get help and which may not? What relationship does animal control have with cat rescue efforts? Are humane societies willing to "share the problem" and allow regular release of animals to no-kill groups that would otherwise be put down for lack of an adequate home? Where does no-kill fit in this conversation? Is this a shared goal? What role does the media play? What are we doing to affect the media presentation of cat issues? Are we active enough on the media front? What value could this provide to our efforts? What role do state-agencies play, especially the DNR? What role does law-enforcement play? As an overall focus we are trying to figure out what everyone is doing and identify obstacles they face.
The third hour (12-1pm) will be where we decide what we want to do about it. How do the disparate goals and priorities of so many synch up into a comprehensive plan? How do we address the needs and concerns of our cats and those who seek to reduce their suffering? How do we alter the dynamics we all face with this complex issue? Can we determine concrete goals that we could build the nucleus of a statewide movement on? What would they be? What are the tactics not currently being applied? What is working elsewhere? How do we need to view each other if we are going to succeed (competitors or partners)? Where can we hope to be a year from now? How can we make sure of it? This hour will be devoted to coming up with a collective vision for the future of our cause and a conceptual plan to get there.
After the third hour, we'll let people scramble, but we'll leave the mics on for a general Q-and-A session on anything related to the cat issues. This will last as long as people find it interesting.
I hope this lays out more clearly what the Feral Forum is about and why we are excited to be promoting it. Wisconsin's cats have faced many challenges in our state over the last four-hundred years, never more than now. By making sure that they get a voice, we can set a new course for action and understanding.
The Feral Forum will be held at the Monona Terrace Convention Center here in Madison WI.
Thank you for taking an interest in Wisconsin's cats!
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