AJP Condemns Canterbury Feral Cat Hunting Competition

Published: Thu 9 May 2024 11:47 AM
AJP stands in opposition to the announcement of the North Canterbury Hunting Competition, including the controversial inclusion of a feral cat hunting category. This decision flies in the face of compassion, ethical treatment of animals, and sustainable environmental stewardship.
While the organisers tout conservation as their motivation, targeting feral cats through hunting competitions does nothing to address the root causes of ecological imbalance, such as habitat loss and human activities.
“In the competition there’s a glaring failure to adequately distinguish between companion and feral cats,” states Danette Wereta, General Secretary of the Animal Justice Party. “A trapped cat's behaviour provides no reliable indication of its status as a beloved companion or a feral cat unsocialised to humans. It is extraordinarily difficult to scan a panicked cat in a trap for a microchip. Given New Zealand doesn’t mandate microchipping for companion cats, many, particularly older ones, remain unchipped. Only a small percentage of cats wear collars and again it’s not a requirement. It is therefore impossible to be certain if any trapped cat is someone's companion animal.” Unless owned cats can be safely returned, then disqualifying hunters if microchips are found does little to prevent the harm inflicted on the cats and their families. This approach is callous and disregards the suffering inflicted on animals.
AJP rejects the notion that killing any animal for sport is acceptable or necessary in any context, and we do not believe that any form of lethal animal management should be entrusted to amateurs, including in this case, children.
There are valid concerns about feral cat populations and their impact on wildlife. Companion cats may contribute to these populations if abandoned or dumped on the outskirts of urban areas. However, if we genuinely care about bird conservation and wildlife protection, we need individuals to take responsibility for their cats by neutering to prevent unplanned breeding and the subsequent dumping of unwanted litters. We need to recognise that we have a societal responsibility to facilitate this. Nationally and as communities, we need to actively remove the barriers of cost, logistics and education to companion animal desexing.
Additionally, AJP encourages supporting rescue shelters and prioritising Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs within and around our towns and cities. These programs, which may include adoption initiatives, are the most sustainable and effective methods for controlling and reducing stray or community cat populations while maintaining societal approval.
Wereta adds, "The acceptance and glorification of violence in society, as exemplified by events like the North Canterbury Hunting Competition, are deeply concerning. Engaging in activities that involve killing animals for sport only serves to desensitise individuals to the value of life and perpetuates a culture of violence. If the sponsors involved really wanted to make a difference for wildlife in New Zealand, they, like the AJP, would support mandatory and facilitated desexing for all companion and community cats, facilitated access to vets and do everything possible to ensure responsible cat ownership while supporting local rescues."
Furthermore, sponsors could support initiatives that reconsider land use and rewilding instead of engaging in activities that are killing for fun. This shift not only follows ethical principles but also promotes sustainable practices that benefit animals and the environment.

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