New Zealanders accept the shooting and killing of DOMESTIC stray cats

NEWS AND VIEWS-NEW ZEALAND: A story on the website tells me in no uncertain terms that New Zealanders totally accept the shooting dead of stray DOMESTIC cats. These were owned cats that have been dumped by irresponsible cat owners. I suspect that many of them are microchipped. Nonetheless, the owner of Tunanui Station in Hawke’s Bay, Andrew Russell, and the station’s predator controller Dan Baker, consider it entirely normal to shoot 400 mainly domestic cats on their station. And the comments on the webpage support them. Do you find that shocking? It is backward behavior. It is crude and ignorant behaviour.

NZ farmer and his pest controller sit in front of a pile of domestic cats that they shot

NZ farmer and his pest controller sit in front of a pile of domestic cats that they shot. Photo: JOHN COWPLAND/STUFF.

All I can say is that the attitude towards stray domestic cats in Great Britain is entirely different to that in New Zealand. In the UK you don’t go around shooting four hundred domestic cats every year and get away with it. In this country you would be arrested promptly provided the police got off their bums and did their job.

This Hawke’s Bay farmer is reportedly dealing with “hordes of feral cats”. But this is a misdescription because the author of the article (Marty Sharpe) then goes on to state that these are domestic cats or at least a large proportion of them are. In 2021, this year, they have already shot 400!

The numbers keep going up year-on-year and the reason according to Andrew Russell, the station owner, is because people dump pregnant domestic cats in the forest nearby. And he says that they are “definitely domestic cats”. Therefore, they are not feral cats. Please can the author get this right? Homeless domestic cats are stray cats. They used to have an owner who has probably dumped them or the cat has become lost. In this instance they must have been dumped judging by the circumstances.

This is what the ‘predator controller’ says about shooting these cats:

“They’re definitely domestic cats. A feral cat is usually black or tabby or a sort of tiger skin. We’re getting big fluffy ginger things, grey fluffy things, black and white things… you can tell when you’re hunting them that they’re domestic. They just stand there and look at you. The feral ones gap it big time. We’ll shoot, say a grey fluffy one, then for the next month you’ll be catching grey kittens or half-grown cats. I’d say 90 per cent of the cats being dumped were pregnant. I imagine people got rid of them because they didn’t want a load of kittens.”

So, what we’ve got here is irresponsible cat owners allowing their cats to breed and then becoming unhappy about that situation so they dump their cats. That is obviously very cruel. And then to compound that cruelty we have a couple of blokes who hunt them with rifles and shoot them dead in large numbers. They justify it by saying that if they didn’t kill them, they’d give birth to kittens and there’d be too many to deal with.

It’s a double whammy of cat cruelty brought about by an incredibly poor attitude towards domestic cat caregiving. But if a New Zealander reads this article, they will probably be pulling their hair out. They would take a completely opposite viewpoint to mine. They will say that what these guys are doing is justified. They support the killing of domestic cats. These are owned cats or formerly owned cats. It doesn’t matter to them that they were someone’s pet. It doesn’t matter to them that they are causing extreme pain and that they are sentient creatures.

Just shoot them and pile them high 😕 . That is the objective in New Zealand. It surprises me that the New Zealand animal welfare laws allow this to happen. In a better country it would not.


NZ animal welfare laws

Read NZ’s Animal Welfare Act 1999 – you will stay on this page and a new tab will open.

New Zealand’s Animal Welfare Act 1999 makes it an offence for the owner of a cat to desert an animal “in circumstances in which no provision is made to meet its physical, health and behavioural needs”. That is unequivocal. The owner of this station and his pest controller mentioned that these are domestic cats. There must be microchips in some of the cats. They can identify the owners. The police should be told and they should be prosecuted for deserting their animals in the words of the statute. It’s a clear crime. Why is this not happening?

Under the above-mentioned act a person commits an offence if they wilfully ill-treat animal causing them pain and distress and either injury or death. Clearly shooting domestic cats falls under this heading and therefore these men are committing a crime but no doubt there will be an EXCEPTION to this under the statute. There has to be an exception somewhere otherwise these two men would have been prosecuted, wouldn’t they? Or is law enforcement turning a blind eye?

Under section 30B of the Act it is also unlawful to hunt or kill an animal in a wild state. If some of these cats are genuinely feral then they are cats in a wild state by definition. And therefore, once again, under this heading these men are guilty of a crime under this statute.

Can somebody please tell me what is going on? Why these two blokes so proud of what they’re doing and so contemptuous of the sentience of these animals? In the photograph on this page by John Cowpland they look at the camera in a relaxed way with a pile of dead cats that they have shot earlier before them. These were someone’s pets at one time.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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