We need a season on feral cats
I was down on my land in Iowa recently with some other family members and while a bunch of us were milling around near the pole barn a feral cat poked his head out of a nearby patch of corn. A couple of my young nephews immediately started conjuring up ways to catch the feline. My immediate advice to them was to leave it alone. With some luck that cat would show himself later when one of us was in a position to dispatch it with a well-placed shot.
There is no shortage of feral cats on the 170 acres where the family congregates each year for turkey, deer and upland bird hunting. I began to wonder if shooting a feral cat might get one in trouble. There are countless stories about individuals who are prosecuted under the anti-cruelty laws (click here for link to one article on this subject) when they are found ridding the world of one of these pests. The answer for many who choose to exterminate a free-roaming feline is to pull the trigger, let it lay and keep quiet about it. The problem with this attitude is that hunters - the ultimate conservationists as far as I’m concerned - need to showcase the problems feral cats cause to the environment to those that are ignorant of the mayhem these feral cats create on other wildlife.
Not only do feral cats have a huge negative impact on bird and small-animal populations, they are also disease carriers. Check out this report by the American Bird Conservancy for proof.
The only good solution to the feral cat dilemma is a season on them. We have seasons on coyotes, fox and prairie dogs. Why not cats? Then a hunter would not question for a second if it was legal to pull the trigger. When in the field if a cat pokes it’s nose out, shoot it and the rest of it’s head off and consider it part of the bag limit.
Who knows. It might become a fairly popular sport. Small towns in the Dakotas would have a Dead Cat Days celebration where big groups of hunters would take to the countryside on cat hunts. People would bring the day’s hunt back with big cats being weighed and displayed. Boone and Crocket would allow skull measurements for their record book. Taxidermists would display their best head mounts.
OK, so that’s not going to happen. And the chances of getting cats to be part of a hunting season is a remote possibility at best. But at some point the states need to look at their laws regarding feral cats and make sure that someone who chooses to rid the world of one of these free-roaming cats is not penalized for their action. For now I guess, there will be no bragging rights for the hunters that have figured out there is more that one way to kill a cat.