By Gayne C. Young
What kind of world are we living in where folks get outraged at the idea of a cat killing contest for kids?
I mean, seriously.
The indignation, the cat killing, and the contest are all from New Zealand. The idea began as a way to raise money for a local school and help rid the island nation of an extremely destructive invasive species. The fundraiser was organized by North Canterbury Hunting Competition for the Rotherham School. On Saturday, April 15, 2023, the group announced a new category for youth under 14 in the annual competition in which participants hunt feral cats for a chance at a top prize of 250 New Zealand dollars ($150 U.S.). This announcement petted many a cat lover the wrong way and the backlash from them was immediate.
PETA’s Asia Vice President, Jason Baker, said in a statement, “Encouraging kids to hunt down and kill animals is a sure-fire way to raise adults who solve problems with violence … We need to foster empathy and compassion in kids, not lead them to believe animals are ‘less than’ humans while rewarding them for brutality.” Will Appelbe, a spokesperson for Animal rights charity SAFE, said in a statement: “There are numerous ways to raise money for Rotherham School and Pool, and sending children off to kill cats shouldn’t be one of them.” Given the amount of hate emails the school received, quite a few people agreed with Baker and Appelbe. The problem with that outcry however is that the school did not organize the event. A statement from the school posted to social media read, in part, that “vile and inappropriate emails and messages had been sent to the school and others involved…We are incredibly disappointed in this reaction and would like to clarify that this competition is an independent community run event.”
It seems that most folks who are against the feral cat killing contest fail to see that cats are an invasive species that continue to destroy the natural ecosystem by killing millions of birds, small and medium-sized mammals, reptiles, and amphibians each year. Others have opined that there is no way to tell a feral cat from a pet. Organizers of the hunt said earlier that any animal produced with a microchip would be disqualified. Of that the New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said, “Children, as well as adults, will not be able to tell the difference between a feral, stray or a frightened domesticated cat. There is a good chance someone’s pet may be killed during this event. In addition, children often use air rifles in these sorts of events which increase the likelihood of pain and distress and can cause a prolonged death.”
The event got worldwide attention and ridicule when animal-loving, anti-hunting British comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted to his 15 million followers on Twitter info on the event and his thoughts: “Right. We need some new PR ideas to make the world love New Zealand. Maybe something involving kids & kittens.”
Organizers caved to the mob and released a statement saying, “Our sponsors and school safety are our main priority, so the decision has been made to withdraw this category for this year to avoid further backlash at this time…To clarify, for all hunting categories, our hunters are required to abide by firearms act 1983 and future amendments as well as the animal welfare act 1999.”
Another win for the anti-hunting mob.
Not to mention a loss for New Zealand’s ecosystem.