Wellington — A New Zealand school’s “cat hunt” fundraiser has caused outcry after children dangled dead feral cats in front of animal rights activists while chanting “meat, meat, meat.”
The North Canterbury Hunting Competition grabbed international headlines earlier this year when it announced children under 14 could sign up to shoot feral cats.
The junior category was eventually scrapped following public uproar, with activists arguing novice hunters might accidentally take out someone’s beloved pet instead of a feral pest.
But an adults-only version of the feral cat section went ahead with a series of strict rules in place, alongside categories for wild pigs, possums, rats and deer.
Christchurch Animal Save spokesperson Sarah Jackson was part of a small group who turned up to protest the event over the weekend, as hopeful hunters brought their prized carcasses to be weighed.
Jackson said the group of six protesters were “taunted” by children, who “began repeatedly chanting ‘meat’ whilst swinging around dead cats.”
“Before this we had children telling us to go and eat carrots and grass and that we were going to die from a lack of protein and iron,” Jackson told AFP. “The first thing we saw when we arrived was children having relay races with the deceased bodies of animals from their shoulders and backs. These included baby pigs, rabbits and possums.”
Organizers told local media that the protesters had provoked the children, and that criticism of the competition ignored thein the country.
The competition was run as a fundraiser for a school in Rotherham, a small village on New Zealand’s South Island.
Feral cats present a major headache for New Zealand’s conservation department, which says they hunt and kill endangered birds as well as bats and lizards.
They can be difficult to distinguish from short-haired tabbies, according to the government, but typically grow much bigger.
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