Humane Society Criticizes Bill to Legalize Killing Feral Animals

(KCPW News) A state lawmaker is sponsoring legislation that would make it legal for anyone to kill a feral animal.  Currently, shooting them without a license is a misdemeanor. Republican Representative Curt Oda says his bill specifically targets rural areas, where people tend to abandon pets.

“If I took the animal to the shelter and they happened to be closed or something and I tell them I’m just going to leave the animal in a cage on the front step, you can take it in, in the morning they said, we’ll charge you with abandonment,” he said. “Or if you want to take it in and have it spayed, you’re required to pay for it.”

Oda says ranchers and most rural Utahns know which animals belong in the area, and which are strays. But Gene Baierschmidt, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Utah, questions how an untrained member of the public would determine whether or not an animal is feral.

“Your cat can wonder up on someone’s lawn and someone could say it’s feral and then they could kill it and you wouldn’t have any recourse,” said Baierschmidt. “The other thing too is the problem with people who get wind of this new law who have guns, or anything, clubs could just go out and kill cats and just say, well, we thought they were feral.”

Baierschmidt says feral cats should be neutered and left to live out their lives without reproducing. But Representative Oda says the capture, neuter and release program is ineffective, especially in rural areas.