MADISON, Wis. – A proposal to legalize the killing of feral cats is not going to succeed, Gov. Jim Doyle said Wednesday.
“I don’t think Wisconsin should become known as a state where we shoot cats,” said Doyle, a Democrat who neither hunts nor owns a cat. “What it does is sort of hold us up as a state that everybody is kind of laughing at right now.”
He told reporters his office had received calls from around the country denouncing a proposal adopted Monday at meetings of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, a public advisory group, that would classify wild, free-roaming cats as an unprotected species that kills songbirds and other wildlife.
Outdoor enthusiasts approved the proposal 6,830 to 5,201 at Monday’s spring hearings of the group.
The results get forwarded to the state Natural Resources Board for consideration, but any official action would have to be passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor.
Animal rights groups belittled the idea as inhumane and dangerous.
Doyle said he respects the Conservation Congress but “on this one I think everybody recognizes it’s not going anywhere.”
Some experts estimate that 2 million wild cats roam Wisconsin, and the state says studies show feral cats kill 47 million to 139 million songbirds a year.
South Dakota and Minnesota both allow wild cats to be shot.
Two state senators – Scott Fitzgerald and Neil Kedzie – had promised to do everything they can to keep the plan from becoming law.
Kedzie, who chairs the Natural Resources and Transportation Committee, called the issue “a distraction from the main tasks we have at hand.”
A 1990s study by Stanley Temple, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor, estimated that outdoor cats kill millions of birds each year. Temple’s study was cited by La Crosse firefighter Mark Smith when he made the feral cat proposal to the Conservation Congress.