Fljótsdalshérað is a municipality located in eastern Iceland. It is the largest municipality in the country by area. The biggest town in the municipality is Egilsstaðir, with a population of 2,300. They’ve recently made the news (and not in a good way) when the decision was made to set traps and kill wild (feral) cats.
Residents in the municipality have been told to keep their cats indoors at night between February 18 and March 8, Any feral cats caught during that time will be killed.
Villikettir á Austurlandi, or ‘Wild Cats in East Iceland,’ is working with the local governments to stop the killing of cats. Fljótsdalshérað mayor Björn Ingimarsson says he’s acting within the law with his plan to kill the cats. Wild Cats even offered to take in any cats trapped and find them homes but their offer was turned down.
Iceland Review reported how Ingimarsson made the decision to kill the feral cats
“After a consultation with the Public Health Authority and the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST), he says, it’s clear that it isn’t permissible to collaborate with Villikettir under the terms that organization has set out. A letter from MAST on the subject notes that wild cats are categorized as semi-wild animals and must either be provided with a permanent home or euthanized.
Likewise, it is not permissible to release animals that have grown up with people into the wild. Villikettir cannot, according to the letter, guarantee these animals the welfare required by current laws related to domestic animals. The ear tagging system that the organization suggested is also said to be illegal.”
Wild Cats, operates as a non-profit welfare organization and practices TNR to control the cat population without killing the cats. They made deals with six municipalities to help control the wildcat population but was turned down by Fljótsdalshérað.
Since Wild Cats In East Iceland started operations November 2017 they’ve provided services for 54 cats. Only six had to be returned to the wild. Forever homes were found for the other 48.
A petition has been set up in an effort to save the cats and reads in part
“Catching and killing cats creates an endless, expensive cycle of cruelty that wastes taxpayers’ money. Removing cats from an area is futile because it results in population increases as an influx of new, unsterilized cats move into the same area to take advantage of available resources and reproduce. This well-documented natural phenomenon is known as the “vacuum effect.” Rather than continue to kill healthy animals year after year at our expense, it’s time for Fljótsdalshérað to consider Trap-Neuter-Return. In some places in Iceland cats have even been killed illegally which is a violation of Icelandic animal protection laws.”
The trap and kill plan is infuriating to cat advocates. Why would the municipality rather kill the cats than to hand them over to a rescue who is willing to take responsibility and find forever homes? The leaders here appear quite ignorant about how trap and kill is a failed approach to an overpopulation problem. Either that or someone just wants to kill a bunch of cats.