For decades, shooting wild cats has been legal in only two states--Minnesota and South Dakota. Wisconsin may become the third...as some say it's a way to control the cat population and protect bird species.
Here in Washoe County, the count is roughly 25,000 cats, compared to the estimated two million wild cats in Wisconsin. One colony has taken over this park...a park that animal activists wish to remain nameless in fear of people hurting the animals.
The country's fifty million feral cats are adept at making parks, industrial areas and residential neighborhoods home. In many instances, like here at this local park, some people have happily adopted them and feed them regularly.
"If you're going to feed them, you've got to get them spayed or neutered. It's just absolutely necessary to do that," says Denise Stevens is the director of Community Cats and is appalled by Wisconsin's proposal.
Instead of hunting, as a way of population control, the organization practices T-N-R-M: Trap, Neuter, Return, Monitor.
"They bring them to us in live traps, in humane traps. We spay and neuter and vaccinate them and they go back to where they came from. That actually ends the cycle of endless kittens and the population reduces by itself through attrition that way."
Veterinarian Diana Lucree has spayed and neutered more than 2500 Northern Nevada cats in the last couple of years. Besides preventing unwanted litters, the organization believes the procedures have numerous other benefits: Male cats won't spray as much, they have a smaller roaming radius and fewer are hit by cars.
"They live happier, healthier lives. They go from little skinny cats to big fat cats after they've been spayed, neutered, vaccinated."
Under the Wisconsin proposal, feral cats would be taken off the protected species list...which would then make it legal to hunt them.
State officials say the 2 million feral cats that live there kill anywhere from 47 million to 139 million songbirds every year. Despite those bird deaths--the Madison Audubon chapter is very much against the cat-hunting proposal.
A member of our local Audubon Society says he hasn't heard of that kind of cat-related bird death problem here.