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A letter from Mark's friend Jeff...
I apologize for taking so long in getting back to you. We’ve literally had thousands of e-mails to plow through, but I wanted to make sure to respond to your thoughts.
“I am an avid hunter, trapper, and fisherman. I am in the woods non-stop year round.”
“Mark Smith is a close friend of mine and to hear the threats over a simple cat is ridiculous.”
I agree that death threats over a cat are ridiculous. Death threats are ridiculous. I have personally condemned these threats, as has our organization. So that you are aware, we also have been personally threatened, as have many of our cats. We worked with the local police on this, but chose not to publicize it as much as Mark has. We were more concerned about the merits of the bill, the science that was associated with it, and how useful this proposed change to our state laws would actually be. Mark missed MANY opportunities to make his case regarding his cat problems.
In some areas people’s pet cats were killed to make a point. That is not only ridiculous, but cruel and illegal. I haven’t heard a lot from the hunting community that condemns these acts of cruelty against innocent pet cats, regardless of what you think of our feral cat issues in the state.
Do you find these acts to be cruel and criminal?
“I personally have not heard one solution for controlling cats. Do you have any? I would really like to hear some ideas.”
I’m glad you asked. We have many and they are proven to work. Do you realize that Stan Temple’s estimates of 1.4 million “free-roaming cats” includes about 1.2 million farm cats, according to Stan Temple himself??!! The first thing that must be understood is that if our state has over 200,000 farmsteads with over a million farm-cats, then we are not going to change much by condemning “cat-dumping” as if this were really the cause of all the cats running around.
Spaying and neutering cats needs to become the standard in Wisconsin, EVEN ON FARMS…ESPECIALLY ON FARMS. We need to pull together as a state to figure out how we do this with existing resources in a way that does not further burden cash-strapped rural farmers and farmsteads. Education on the importance of not allowing free-reproduction is how you slow this down. We are not talking taxpayer resources here. We’re talking volunteer rescue networks that already exist. We’ve got a team helping a farmer out in Verona today-not a penny out of his pocket or the taxpayers. We do it because we can and we care.
“I for one am sick of seeing a thousand cats roaming around without collars. If a cat owner is responsible enough for a cat he/she should be responsible enough to pay for a two dollar collar.”
Farm cats don’t usually wear collars as they come off easily to avoid strangulation. Nowadays, most folks are going to microchips as they are safer, permanent, and they guarantee a returned pet if checked. They don’t fall off. Cats are not dogs and they don’t have the same affinity for collars and leashes, especially working farm-cats (like the ones Stan Temple and John Coleman studied in Southern Wisconsin to get their predation data).
“Do you have a cat? Does it have a collar?”
I care for six cats. Three stay at our store on the Westside of Madison. They are a family that started with a pregnant stray named Lucy. She had two from her litter survive after she was rescued and spayed. We adopted all three of them and they live a happy indoor life. Under Q62, Lucy could have been shot while pregnant with Morty and Nicole. Today they are all wonderful, happy, intelligent members of our team.
I have one cat that stays alone at our Willy Street shop, Gabby. She was also a rescued stray that became a working member of the team. She is also an indoor cat, but likes to get fresh air in front of the store. She is no menace, but could have been put down under Q62. She always has a collar on.
My cats at home are two long-haired rescue cats that are also indoor, as this is far safer for them (due to cars and psychos that shoot pet cats). Lolo, our fat white one, is a sun-worshipper and likes to go outside on his collar and tie-out so that he can chew on grass and listen to the birds. He’s not “free-roaming” from Stan Temple’s definition.
All of my cats are micro chipped as well.
“Are cats native to Wisconsin or the US?”
Are you? No, the came over 400 years ago at about the exact same time as our ancestors. This was not coincidence. We needed them as working farm cats just like they are today in the great state of Wisconsin. Field mice and Norwegian rats also came courtesy of our Manifest Destiny (“non-native” prey that causes stuff like the Bubonic Plague when there are no working cats available to keep these disease vectors in place).
They are Africans that were dragged here to work, much like their human counterparts. I don’t want to send anyone home or to their death if they’ve been a functional part of our society for over 400 years. How all-natural is suburban sprawl and its truly disastrous effects on native wild birds? Habitat loss caused by human development is the real threat to bird species, not our farm-cats.
Uncontrolled reproduction is only possible with unnatural food sources and human help. That also means we have the power to stop this, reduce homeless animals, and keep our cats from doing material damage or getting hurt themselves. This “native/non-native” canard is tired and irrelevant, as these are descriptors for wildlife, not domestic animals that are defined clearly under our state’s animal cruelty protections.
Felis catus is protected in Wisconsin under law no matter where you find it, what its doing, or what its wearing. Shooting any cat is a Class-1 felony offense punishable with jail-time. There is plenty of precedent for this. Saying it not true does not change the law. Q62 seeks to change the law.
“What are your solutions for reducing the cat populations or controlling them?”
Spay-neuter education programs are the most important. Targeted TNR programs to control identified colonies or groups (like a bunch of farm cats that are not fixed) is another excellent tool that has been proven to work when properly administered. Animal control officers and humane societies have to work better together so that citizens don’t feel they are left without the support they need to get real problems solved, once identified.
This is just the beginning.
We will be hosting a Feral Forum in Madison on June 25th and will be inviting anyone who wants to work with us to find a solution to the problems caused in our state due to free-roaming and feral cats. I hope you and Mark will consider joining us. I will reserve a free ticket for each of you!
Q62 is not a solution, nor does it address the underlying cause of the number of cats we see…farm-cats that are not fixed.
“I for one will sadly shoot the cats in the wild with no collars when made legal.”
I am sad to hear that you would think this would help, be the right thing to do, or that the many tame (non-feral) cats that will be killed under such a regime are somehow justified. On the bright side, I think you’ll never get the chance to do this legally if we do our job right!
“I love cats and have had them growing up and had them until recently............................... Thanks, Jeff Sarver”
That last part throws me. Do you not like cats anymore? If you love them, then help us find a realistic solution that works for the 88% of the state that hates to see furry things get shot, especially ones that are of the same genetic makeup as their best friend.
Thanks for taking the time to write to us!
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