The recent controversy over shooting feral cats in Utah has recently attracted national attention. Rep. Curtis Oda, R-Clearfield sponsored a bill which has now been dubbed the “feral cat bill”. Rep. Oda has said the bill is intended to allow farmers and ranchers to protect their crops or livestock by controlling feral animal populations, without fear of being charged with animal cruelty. The controversy reached a boiling point when Oda received several death threats, which are now being investigated by federal authorities.
Utah is just the latest of states to face controversy surrounding the control of feral cat populations. Wisconsin firefighter Mark Smith also received death threats in 2005 over a plan he proposed to legalize wild cat hunting in his state. Several states already allow wild cats to be shot.
Opponents of plans and bills such as these cite many reasons they should be defeated. Some fear it will result in domestic animals being shot, such as owned-cats that are allowed to roam free, or lost animals. Some think it provides perverse people a loophole – they can shoot a neighbor’s cat or dog and just say “I thought it was feral.” Still others feel there are many alternatives to reducing the feral cat population, such as TNR, or trap-neuter-release, which other states have put into place.
The controversy over feral cats hits close to home for many people. One person will actively feed the wild cats in the area and even provide shelter for them, while their neighbor will do anything to get rid of feral cats. One farmer will encourage feral cats on his property to keep the rodent population down, while the farmer down the road wants to shoot feral cats on his property.
Whether you support or oppose laws or plans like these, no one can dispute there is a serious feral cat problem. It is estimated there are tens of millions of feral cats in the United States. They are one of the common carriers of the rabies virus and they are susceptible to parasites such as ticks, fleas, mites and worms. They can infest your home or business with their parasites, attack pets and livestock, defecate into children’s play areas, and cause property damage. Feral cats can decimate local populations of native species of birds or other wild life, and compete with other native predators for food.
If you have problems with feral cats in and around your property, the best course of action is to hire a professional nuisance wildlife removal company. The wildlife control technician knows the local laws governing removal of feral cats, is trained at handling them safely, and can advise you on ways to discourage feral cats from returning to your property.