Plan for shooting feral cats in Wisconsin dropped

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The wildlife advisory group that raised the idea of hunting feral cats in Wisconsin to protect the state's songbirds has let the controversial plan die.

Shortly after Gov. Jim Doyle said the proposal was making Wisconsin a laughingstock, the Conservation Congress in May announced it was no longer pursuing the plan for dealing with nuisance cats.

The Conservation Congress is an independent group that advises the state Natural Resources Board and the Department of Natural Resources.

Following the governor's announcement, Congress Chairman Steve Oestreicher, in a tersely worded statement, said, "(T)he Executive Committee has taken the position to recommend no further action be taken at this time."

In a nonbinding referendum held by the congress this April, Wisconsin residents voted in favor of changing the classification of feral cats from a domestic species to an unprotected status (see JAVMA,June 1, 2005).

Although no mention of hunting stray cats was made in the proposal, it would have been the first step toward allowing licensed hunters to shoot uncollared cats caught roaming outdoors.

The ensuing national outcry would have made moving the proposal through the state legislature and onto the governor's desk extremely difficult, however.