School teacher encourages kids to kill non-native animals including cats

Nathan Winograd, American’s leading animal advocate in respect of animal shelters and on other topics, has written an excoriating article about the people who wish to kill non-native species such as feral cats because they prey on native species. He examines the motivation of these people and the horrendously unethical and debased way people are behaving and which is, I think, summarised in the words of a New Zealand school teacher (see below).

In America self-proclaimed conservationists call for the elimination of outdoor cats by any means necessary. In Australia, they have an enormous reputation for slaughtering hundreds of thousands of feral cats in any way possible no matter how much pain and distress it causes both to the cats and to the kind people who might be caring for them.

NZ - kids killing non-native species
NZ – kids killing non-native species. The picture in the center actually comes from America but it is the same mentality. Image: MikeB
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Picture of boy holding rifle and dead ginger cat he shot

NZ teacher encourages school children to kill animals

Mr Winograd reports the following: “And in New Zealand, the goal is nothing less than killing every community cat, with schoolchildren groomed to wage violence upon them and other animals. ‘What species do you want to kill the MOST?’ an Auckland schoolteacher asked his students.”

This is a primary school! What kind of teacher is that? The kind that indoctrinates pliable and impressionable minds into believing that killing animals which are not native to the country in which the child lives is acceptable.

I would argue that this is an example of child abuse, actionable through the courts to prosecute the teacher. Sadly, in New Zealand the words and actions of this teacher are not illegal or in breach of the law. It appears to be entirely accepted as normal. All the more reason why it is horrendous. The killing of any animal by children in this way significantly undermines society in my opinion.

The teacher is ignorant with a complete disregard for the history of feral cats in New Zealand and how they exist in that country and in Australia: it’s because of the carelessness of humans. The ‘messenger’ is the feral cat, the product of poor human behaviour. The perpetrator is the human. Humans should be punished not the victims of human carelessness namely the cats.

It isn’t just cats that are killed like this. Any non-native species in New Zealand or Australia will do it seems to me.


There is an article on the Stuff New Zealand website headed: “Teaching our kids to kill in the name of conservation”. In that article we are told that in New Zealand possums are treated with “the utmost disdain as imposters from Australia that kill our native birdlife….”.

A ‘war cry’ has been declared to kill and kill and kill possums under the authority’s commitment to rid the country of predators under the Predator Free 2050 initiative.

It is shocking to hear that schoolchildren kill animals as part of conservation efforts. And it happens a lot. In rural New Zealand they have dead possum competitions in which they are dressed up and lined up. They are judging the “best dressed possum”. They mean the best dressed dead possum. They find ghoulish ways to make the disgusting result as funny as possible.

Dead possums dressed up and lined up
Dead possums dressed up and lined up in New Zealand. This is considered fun and a good thing. Image: Stuff.

“Children are provided with material designed to engender dislike towards non-native mammals, particularly possums. Resources conflate issues of conservation by tying it in with protection of tourism, ornamental plants and primary industries.” – Michael Morris of the Royal Agricultural University in his article: Primary school education resources on conservation in New Zealand over-emphasise killing of non-native mammals.

Morris mentions: “School children been encouraged to hunt, trap and drown possums, and then to humiliate their corpses (Tulloch, 2018; Morris, 2020)”.

Debasing societal rules

Uruti School in Taranaki is apparently the leader of this unacceptable behaviour. They achieved international headlines with their display of dead possums. The schools regard the lineups of dead possums as “harmless fun”.

I have already mentioned the potential harm that this teacher-led behaviour creates. They seem to have normalised animal cruelty and think of it as funny and entertaining rather than disrespectful, creepy, ugly and downright unethical and immoral. And it is liable to encourage further violence against animals and people when the kids grow up.

The whole concept of killing non-native species to protect native species is flawed. It legitimises what should be illegal behaviour. Animal welfare laws normally prevent the shooting of feral cats in a civilised society. But they make exceptions in places such as New Zealand and Australia. They make it their mission. This undermines animal welfare generally.

And if you allow people to take pot shots at feral cats – I guess under licence but the licences are probably liberally distributed – you endanger someone’s pet cat. You can’t tell whether you are shooting a feral or a domestic cat at a distance. There is the potential for criminal damage, a crime even in New Zealand.

Nathan Winograd calls the ideology of shooting non-native species “Invasion Biology”. It regards, he says, lineage alone “as the sole determinant of an animal’s moral worth”. In other words, an individual cat’s family background determines whether he is going to be shot dead or be allowed to live in New Zealand and Australia. An ugly societal standard of behaviour.

Below are some more articles on killing feral cats.

Australia's feral cats might be able to suppress the rat plagues in Australia

Queensland are killing feral cats as fast as they can but are plagued by rats

I'm told that the feral cats of Australia are larger than the usual European variety (see link below) because they ...
Nativism and speciesism is behind the mass killing of Australia's feral cats

Australians are ‘nativists’ who want to destroy feral cats and restrict cat ownership

I had never heard of the word 'nativist' until Nathan Winograd used it. It is good one when used to ...
Tasmania's feral cats are attracted to a feather boa in a study conducted by Alexandra Paton. The photograph is by her using a camera trap.

Tasmania’s feral cats are attracted to a feather boa

A study found that feather boas are effective in luring feral cats. The person who carried out the study, Alexandra ...

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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