by Elisa Black
Will I Be "Hunted?"
I'm sorry folks, but it's more bad news out of me. I don't like to think of what I write as gloom and doom. I'm more into education and prevention. I like to keep my readers up to date on what is happening right under their noses. Hopefully in time to prevent the worst from happening. Most people don't have time to search the web for what's going on. I do.
I am a true cat lady. I'm a single mom and knowledge and research is my contribution. Sometimes I think this is the most important thing I can do for our cats. I inform before it's too late. When the news is good I include details on how other areas can make the same happen for their community. When it's bad I include information and references on how to protest.
Sit down and prepare for the journalistic equivalence to a roller coaster ride. This one will leave you gasping until the end.
I wanted to bring this to the attention of everyone; that the New Jersey Fish and Game Council is trying to reclassify cats as exotic and dangerous. If this should happen it will give hunters the right to hunt cats as casually as deer and rabbit are hunted today. Of course the latter two are hunted not only as a sport but for food. See Daily Record story.
Should this bill be passed, it will become legal to kill, skin (and use fur), and eat cat since it will become "venison." It's hard to think of cat as "white meat" but that's what will happen.
It's bad enough to think of cats being hunted and killed, but this gets worse. If this bill is passed into law it will end the TNR that has worked well for years.
This whole matter began in May of 2007 with Jeannette Vreeland, acting chair of the Fish and Game Council in New Jersey. Her logic behind this (if you could call it logic) is that cat's aren't natural and don't belong outdoors. When they ARE outdoors they are guilty of killing small creatures (e.g. birds) and this must be stopped. Last month at the New Jersey Fish and Game commission meeting she stressed that her views haven't changed.
The New Jersey Fish and Game Council is appointed by the governor and consists of farmers, hunters and commercial fishermen. Their next meeting is this month and there is a petition opposing this bill from passing. It can be found here. PLEASE read this article as it lists who to contact and how to word an email so it won't be screened out and not reach the right people.
Right now on their council there is a member whose family runs an animal euthanasia business. His name is Leonard Wolgast. Why is he even on the committee when his family would benefit by banning TNR and endorse euthanasia? It would be a good idea to bring this up to the appropriate officials when you contact lawmakers in protest of this bill.
Am I imagining it or is this bill going to benefit everyone except the cats?
There are other negative considerations to consider should this pass. Police will have to deal with many of these cases as animal cruelty as it will be impossible for a hunter to know if a cat is domestic or wild. Many pet cats will be killed. Their crime? Being outdoors at the wrong place at the wrong time. Police hours that could have been put into solving actual police cases will be bogged down with cruelty investigations.
Some people in New Jersey may shrug this off because they have indoor cats and don't think this pertains to them. Guess what? Should this be passed it will be illegal to let a cat outdoors. Doing so could result in a $2000 fine per occurrence. IF your cat isn't shot first. Cats do have a way of sneaking out. This law means a costly mistake for the family or willful murder by a "hunter."
My secondary reason for opposing this bill is what I like to call an "epidemic." In other words, if this passes in one state others may follow. I don't know about the rest of the world. In the United States, states seem to copy each other on new laws. Wisconsin passed a similar law a few years ago and a cat hunter accidentally shot his neighbor. Which is probably what will happen in New Jersey.
The Sheriff's Association of New Jersey is working with animal right's groups to keep this law from happening.
The New Jersey Fish and Game Council just doesn't get it. TNR works and is the only thing that does work. Many are under the wrong idea that removing ferals from an area is a permanent way to eliminate ferals. This simply isn't true. The TNR people can testify to that. From a monetary standpoint it's cheaper to TNR than to euthanize. Most TNR programs rely on grants and donations and save the taxpayers money. Since this will be banned should this law pass, the cost of euthanasia will fall on the taxpayer.
Unless the hunters get there first.
Now hang on tight for the flip side of this story.
I feel is it my duty as a cat reporter to tell both sides.
It may all be FALSE and based on RUMORS started by a few animal rights groups.link
The New Jersey Fish and Game Council argues the case that their concern is with changing the cat into a companion animal. This would hold owners accountable for their cats and cut down on the feral issue. It will enforce stricter laws about the abandonment of cats which will cut down the feral population. The cat hunting, skinning, eating issue isn't even on the agenda.
Michelle Lerner who works with a non profit group called Animal Protection League of New Jersey states that nothing has happened so far concerning this proposal. Her group is working to make sure none of this ever DOES happen. She is credited with helping start a TNR program in Mount Olive last year.link
There is a link on this reference that is supposed to direct the reader to the official state page for New Jersey. Good luck. When I tried reaching the site, the browser said the page doesn't exist.
So what IS the truth? I have no idea which side to believe. The next meeting of the New Jersey Fish and Game Council is scheduled for April 13, 2010. Here is a copy of their schedule for 2010.
I entered the issue into http://www.snopes.com. I don't know if this is a world renowned site but it's what people in the U.S. use to separate fact from myth. Urban legend rumors spread quickly and snopes is pretty accurate on telling the true story. I tried everything from New Jersey feral cats to New Jersey shoots cats and came up empty handed. So there is a chance the shooting proposal doesn't exist.
Is there anyone in New Jersey who knows more about this? Just the truth, please.