After a backlash, a competition that encouraged children to kill as much cat as they could has been canceled.
The prize for the youngest shooter who was able to kill the most feral cats in New Zealand was a prize of PS124.
Critics of the North Canterbury Hunting Competition were concerned that household pets might be targeted by children who would not know the difference.
The SPCA, New Zealand’s RSPCA, had expressed “extreme concern” over the planned event but could not take enforcement actions because no laws were broken.
The animal charity said: “It is not possible to distinguish between a feral cat, a stray cat, or a domesticated cat that’s scared based on their appearance. So there’s a good possibility someone’s pet could be killed at this event.”
In addition, air rifles are often used by children in such events, which can increase the risk of injury and pain, as well as prolonging death.
North Canterbury Hunting Competition released a statement in which it announced that the cat-hunting category had been scrapped and condemned anyone who sent “vile, inappropriate emails”.
The organizers added: “Our sponsors, school safety and our main priorities are our top priority. Therefore, we have decided to withdraw this category this year in order to avoid any further backlash.
“We’re disappointed and apologize to those who were excited about being involved in a project that aims to protect our native birds and other vulnerable animals.”
The competition will continue as planned for the other parts, where children are encouraged to shoot deer, wild pigs and wild boars.
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Feral cats can be found in New Zealand. According to the Department of Conservation of New Zealand, these cats have “major impacts” on native bats, birds, lizards, and mice.
Officials use guns, poison and traps to control the population.
Many of the people who follow the North Canterbury Hunting Competition on Facebook expressed their anger over the elimination of the cat-killing contest.
Wild cats are said to cause damage, spread disease and interfere with the lambing period.