Cat Hunt in Wisconsin: Don't Shoot The Cat Speaks

Dear Dontshootthecatters,

This is Ted and I apologize for not taking advantage of this e-mail list/newsletter thing sooner.
I wanted to give everyone an update on the status of the campaign and talk a bit about what we need to do next to make sure that Wisconsin's cats remain safe for many years to come.

This is not over yet. While I am quite aware that Q62 will not pass this particular legislature/governor in its current form, I am not convinced that we have debunked the pseudo-scientific garbage that put our cats in the crosshairs in the first place (Stan Temple, "Cat Indoors!", the American Bird Conservancy, the DNR, our local media, etc.).

Steve Oeistreicher and the Conservation Congress also seem convinced that this deserves their "Yes!" vote. This is a reflection of their commitment to this cruel and barbarous idea and their inability to deal with scientific reality. The notion that this proposal was meant to "stimulate debate" is a clear indictment of his "vision" as a leader in our state.

There has been a very deliberate campaign by many players in the hunting, wildlife, and bird-watching communities that have eroded the public's understanding of issues regarding outdoor ownerless cats (as well as our trust these people). Stan Temple has probably done more to confuse the public on cat-predation than any scientist in history. That's because of his politics, which have been politely kept quiet by our generally non-assertive local media.

Madison is the state capitol and Stan Temple is UW-Madison's premier wildlife guy. He's also considered an "authority" on cat predation.The problem is that nobody mentioned that Stanley Temple serves on the Technical Advisory Committee of the "Cat Indoors!" program, the American Bird Conservancy's rabidly anti-cat campaign.

So Stan works for a Washington bird lobby that hates outdoor cats and is religiously opposed to TNR programs and recommends criminalizing the most basic elements of cat-rescue tactics. Stan Temple, ABC, and the "Cats Indoors!" project are working with government agencies such as our DNR to push this philosophy out to a lapdog press and an unaware public. We eat it up like candy.

The numbers quoted in Q62 were directly taken from Stan's "research" in this area (47-139 million birds per year). Of course they picked a range that would scare people, but not get them too skeptical about the "science" part. Stan's actual estimates/guesses/extrapolations were reported as 7.8 to 219 million. Again, this would give away the fact that this was industry-bought quackery with no actual scientific data to back any of it up, so nobody in the media used it much. With so many other more credible studies available on this, I have to wonder why the media didn't investigate the inconsistencies. I've got a few guesses.

The estimated numbers of cats in Wisconsin are also a major part of this myth-system. Stan's bird numbers are a function of these cat population estimates. These estimates are based on human population numbers, land area and pet ownership demographics.

So what we get is an estimate times an estimate times an estimate from a paid hack for the bird lobby and we're supposed to buy into the idea that cats are going to eat all of our birds if we don't start shooting them today. This was junk-science, propaganda, and ignorance coming together in a sort of perfect storm of stupidity.

It is this perfect storm of stupidity that is making Wisconsin the well-deserved recipient of negative international media attention. We got all coked up on the idea that Stan's science was impartial, birds were being driven out by cats (what happened to habitat loss and the Audubon Society???), and that perhaps this will teach those irresponsible cat lovers a lesson.

We are the dumbest state in the union. At least today we are. Lets work on that together, shall we? Shooting a cat is a Class-1 felony in the state of Wisconsin - animal cruelty is still against the law!Domestic cats are protected at the species level in our state so feral cats are protected just the same.

There are millions of us that will fight to keep it this way. We proved it.The DNR has no authority to change or even recommend a change in the status of domestic cats (our legal injunction is in the works)

People destroy bird populations by human development which drives habitat loss, impacting the population's ability to reproduce effectively.Cats have a negligible effect on bird populations and are critical for rodent/disease control.We do have too many ownerless outdoor cats, although total eradication is unrealistic and unwise to pursue (No cats? Try rats!)

Outdoor cats are not the problem, reproducing outdoor cats are the problem (caused by irresponsible people).Still, most cats are safer indoors due to motor-vehicle concerns, not that a fixed outdoor cat has any impact on bird or cat populations.

Our ownerless outdoor cat problem is driven primarily by free-reproduction on farms where spay/neuter is not a strongly held social expectation.

New death-rate impacts such as shooting cats will have little effect on the feral situation (no more than the cats killing occasional birds will do much to disturb the total bird populations).

Focus on birth-rate factors with spay/neuter programs, TNR projects, and public education promises the greatest positive impact and has the strongest scientific support.

The rescue community needs to keep driving in these directions and reject the concept that the "Cat Indoors!" program is an effective approach to the problem. Its right up there with "Just say no!" and "Abstinence only!" in terms of dogmatic focus on the wrong priority. Again, most cats do better indoors most of the time. Lets not make a religion out it, as it will do nothing but distract us from focusing on the success of our efforts to curb unwanted reproduction.

Ok, so that was just to let you know where we stood on the issues at play. What next? Well, pick up the next issue of People magazine. We expect decent coverage there. We were on CNN last night, where I blasted Stan's "science", the American Bird Conservancy, and the "Cat Indoors!" program. Burt Bushke of Wings Over Wisconsin was my opposition. I've torched him twice now (once on Fox National a couple days ago). On CNN's Cooper Anderson show a few days a go I went unopposed because they continue to struggle to find someone to put their face up as a Pro-62 supporter (even though these deadneck losers voted for it!). I blasted the Temple/ABC/CatIndoors! connection locally here on 92.1 on Saturday afternoon.I can't even tell you how much radio we are doing around the world. We did an Australian radio show and we've done Canada twice, not to mention KROQ out of LA and about a hundred stations around towns and cities everywhere.

I think this is missed on the Wisconsin public and the Wisconsin media. The rest of the world is way ahead of us (thank Ganesh!).Dontshootthecatters have a two-fold mission.educate ourselves.attack ignorance.

Let's get the phones dialing to Steve Oeistreicher at the Conservation Congress (715.282.5956) so that he understands that you expect more honestly and leadership from his office. So far we've seen little of either. There is no reason Q62 should still be alive and moving forward, but it is both. The reason it is still alive and moving ahead is the failed leadership of Steve Oeistreicher, chairman if this ignorant taxpayer-funded sportsmen's lobby.

Let's make sure that everyone and their brother is made aware of the Stan Temple/ABC/"Cat Indoors!" relationship and its significance in understanding the context of this whole story. This is the most important unreported aspect of this whole charade we've been forced to endure. Exposing the clear bias and lack of scientific validity will do a great deal to removing the public ignorance that makes our rescue work difficult at times.

Lets make sure that everyone realizes that shooting cats is a Class-1 felony offense in the State of Wisconsin and that we will not tolerate any weakening of these critical protections. These protections are not just for protecting the well-being of the animal, but for protecting the well-being of a society and its consciousness.

Its no mistake serial-killers and gun-spree shooters pop up out of Wisconsin and Minnesota every eight-to-twelve weeks. Cruelty, violence, and disrespect for life are some of the uglier aspects of a peculiar strain of Midwestern rural culture that I call "Deadneck" (dead from the neck up).

I get graphic e-mails from them every day and I can tell you that they are not getting any smarter out there.Are we crazy cat people? Maybe. But somebody shot my cat when I was a kid and it really pissed me off. This time, I think we're onto something.

Stay tuned and keep sending all the info, e-mail, advice, criticism, etc. It all helps tremendously. We've had over a quarter-million web hits this month (as well as last month) and have received thousands and thousands of e-mails from all over the world. This is all making a difference. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.Let's not lose our focus or forget we're still battling on the public education front.

Let's not get peeled off on discussions about what's wrong with rescue, etc. We'll get to all that, but for now, lets stay on this demon until it's purged!

All I got.
Ted O'Donnell


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