The Wisconsin feral cat hunt proposal has run into liberal resistance. The author of the proposal has received death threats from feral-cat right to lifers. Stan Temple, a wildlife ecologist whose work is cited in support of radical action against wild kitty-kats has also been threatened.
At my place we delay the first hay cutting until high summer, usually the first week of July. We do this so the thousands of birds dumb enough to nest in the path of the baler will have a chance to raise a brood of chicks before we degrade their habitat. Happily, there’s a lot of marshland and native prairie near the fields where the fledglings can find cover. Unhappily we’re close enough to town that the lazy and irresponsible cat owners who would rather let kitty run free than face the realities of having to give up for adoption or put down an animal they can no longer care for sometimes dump their pets along the road. Unlike the bald tires, the appliances, the bags of garbage, the lawn cuttings, and once by god a kitchen sink that I find in my ditch, the animals are dynamic. Unlike that discarded tire, the discarded feline will usually fight it’s way out of the garbage bag and head for the marsh.
In Wisconsin this is surfacing as a political issue:
Mark Smith of La Crosse said he wants to make
free-roaming domestic cats an unprotected species. That would
allow anyone with a small-game license to shoot them.
"I mean it’s just trying to protect some native songbirds and a lot
of other wildlife," Smith said. "Whether it’s baby ducks, baby turkeys,
smaller rabbits, small squirrels, or a whole host of other wildlife."
Mark Smith may have blown it big time. The country dweller has long made it a conservation practice to attempt to control vermin. Feral cats are of course vermin. There is no law against shooting them, poisoning them, drowning them, trapping them and so forth. Now that Smith has raised it as an issue and the National Humane Society has joined the debate, the country dwellers’ shameful secret is bound to emerge: When you city folks leave your furry bundles of joy at our place, we generally shoot them.
Now this is perhaps a moment for the "Guns ‘n Quakers" interlude. This Quaker has a hard time holding onto a gun. When my grandfather died, he left me his 20 gauge puump action Remington Wingmaster. Somebody stole from my dad’s place where I kept it. When I was a kid I had a single shot .22 rifle. We were on the way out of town to do some shooting in a nearby gravel pit when Paul’s VW somehow turned over. The gun was seriously damaged. My dad repaired it. I haven’t seen it since I left home and I suspect one of my nephews uses it for plinking. In San Francisco I picked up a used single shot 12 gauge so I could go trap shooting with Steve, Phil and Betty Jo. Later I picked up a 1974 Ford Gran Torino, only somewhat damaged in the flood of 1982 and long since dried out. One day, planning to head out to Lake Merced after work, I parked it at the 5th and Mission garage with the shotgun in the trunk. Somebody broke in and stole it. I think that was my last gun until moved to the country. I bought a Remington pump 12 gauge with multiple choke inserts. I had a scope mount installed so I could stalk Bambi, using rifled slugs in this shotgun only county. I had delusions of bird shooting and I picked up a Labrador retriever (free to good home), from which I learned the depth of meaning in the phrase "that dog won’t hunt." I held onto that shotgun for six or eight years before we had a break-in and somebody stole it out of my bedroom closet. I have a hard time with guns and indeed I have never killed a cat. But I would.
I’m thinking a 50 caliber Alaskan Encore handgun might be my next adventure in shooting. I hope to have it in hand before cat season opens. Failing that, I’d like to thank Harry for his reminder that there’s more than one way to skin a puss.