The Party for the Animals is planning a protest against a proposed policy that would legalize shooting feral cats in Groningen.
Translation by Traci White
On the 19th of September, a provincial council commission will debate whether to legalize shooting feral cats in the province of Groningen. The policy is meant to protect small animals from being eaten by from feral cats. The Party for the Animals is planning protest at 1 p.m. on September the 19th at the Martinikerkhof. OOG TV reports that the political party, which is focused primarily on animal’s rights, objects to the policy, argues that the only humane way to limit the feral cat population is to trap them and spay or neuter them and then return them to the wild.
The Dutch Hunter’s Union says that shooting the cats is a humane solution and that returning fixed cats to nature will does not fix the problem. The policy proposal claims that stray or feral cats kill around 140 million vertebrate animals, mostly birds, every year. Friesland and Utrecht already permit the shooting of feral cats, and NRC reports that over the past three and a half years, hunters have shot around 1,000 cats in the two provinces.
The cats that are targeted are strays that have no owner, no other sources of food, and are typically scared of human contact. Hunters generally try to confirm that the cat is wild by spotting it multiple times far away from any nearby buildings. In Friesland, where more than 700 cats have been shot since 2015, the populations of bird species, such as godwits and lapwings, are especially susceptible to being eaten by the feral cats. The birds are also threatened by other predators and environmental factors. The University of Wageningen estimates that there are as many as 1.2 million stray or feral cats in the Netherlands.
Trap, Neuter and Return
In 2013, the Dutch animal rights organization Dierenbescherming gathered 137,000 signatures against the policy of shooting stray cats, and the Dutch parliament passed a motion calling for an end to the policy. RTL Nieuws reports that most Dutch provinces have a shooting ban, and four provinces – North Brabant, Flevoland, South Holland and Utrecht (within city limits) – have a Trap, Neuter and Return policy for cats. Zeeland is also considering legalizing the practice.
Photo source: Flickr