WAUSAU, Wis. - Wild cats prowl around the bird feeder outside Mark Smith's home, waiting to pounce on a wren or maybe a robin. About all Smith can do right now is watch. But if the La Crosse firefighter has his way, there will soon come a day when he can open his door, take aim and fire — and not worry about being prosecuted.Predictably, cat-lovers have banded together in opposition to this proposal. (If you'd like to make your opinions on the matter known, you can sign this online petition.)
Smith, 48, wants Wisconsin to 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.
His proposal gets tested April 11 at the Wisconsin Conservation Congress spring hearings, where outdoor enthusiasts gather in every county to vote on hunting and fishing issues. The citizens' advisory group then will forward the election results to the state Natural Resources Board. The Legislature would have to change the law, though, for Smith's plan to be implemented.
While I am not unsympathetic to lovers of songbirds and the sort of small game that roaming cats are prone to kill and eat, there has to be a better way to control Wisconsin's feral cat population than letting random, armed redneck cheeseheads take potshots at them.
Would-be anti-feline vigilante types should also be concerned about retaliation. Sometimes, cats shoot back.
Mister Gato, himself a former feral cat (found wandering in the urban jungle of industrial Brooklyn) had no comment.
Update, April 13: The results of the vote and related news can be found here.