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Feral Cat Hunting Competition Draws Controversy After Hundreds Of Cats Killed

Over 300 feral cats were killed in New Zealand during a hunting competition last weekend. According to Unilad, the North Canterbury Hunting Challenge calls on hunters to target feral cats, which are known to prey upon local wildlife.

The competition took place on New Zealand's South Island and sparked a great deal of controversy. According to 7News, somewhere around 370 cats were killed in this year's competition.

The competition was created in response to the damage done to local wildlife populations by feral cats. The cats decimate local bird populations, accounting for the death of nearly 100 million birds each year. Likewise, the feral cats spread disease to kill sheep and target local lizard populations.

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The organizer of the competition, Mat Bailey, argues that the feral cats must go. Bailey describes feral cats as similar to a "caged lion" and insists they are nothing like a typical pet. While the competition has found success, Bailey hopes to see the issue taken up across the country.

Hundreds of Feral Cats Killed in Controversial Hunting Competition

Wayne Beggs, of New Zealand's Department of Conservation, confirmed that the relationship between feral cats and New Zealand's native wildlife is cause for concern. Feral cats were never intended to be a part of the ecosystem in which native New Zealand wildlife lived in, and the cats have wreaked havoc as a result.

While some laws have been put into place to manage the feral cats in particular regions of New Zealand, many believe is not nearly enough to move the needle on the issue. In direct contrast to this viewpoint, many wildlife activists have opposed the competition from its inception.

The activist group called Christchurch Animal Save called the competition a 'blood sport' in a statement. Likewise, another anonymous activist described the event as 'one of the most shocking' they have ever attended as an activist.

While dissent of the event is present, Bailey has no intentions of stopping. Rather, cash rewards were awarded to the hunter who killed the most cats, as well as the hunter who killed the heaviest during last weekend's competition.

The two sides are certainly split on the issue, and neither expects to meet in the middle anytime soon.