Wisconsin's Feud With The Animal Kingdom Continues

« March 2005 »

Memo to Mark Smith: YOU'RE A DICK.

You've probably heard about Mark Smith by now. He's currently the most infamous Wisconsinite in America, due to a quirk in media coverage that tends to overlook people who get caught fucking cows. Mark Smith is a firefighter from La Crosse, Wisconsin, and has brought forth a proposal to reduce the numbers of what he considers an "invasive species". He wants to shoot cats. This is because Mark Smith is a dick.

Now, I like cats. Don't get me wrong. But I'm not going to sit here in some PETA slash Friskies-commercial hybrid haze, wondering how anyone could be so cruel as to want to murder poor widdle puddies. Feral cats can be a problem in rural areas, and, legal or otherwise, farmers have apparently been taking potshots at troublesome felines for years. Farmin' ain't easy, and if they have to use force to keep the pussies in check, I'm not going to be forming a human chain in Fuckitall, WI with a bunch of members of Animal Rights Now to keep it from happening.

But Mark Smith isn't a farmer, he's a firefighter. And he doesn't live in the middle of nowhere, he lives in a town of fifty thousand people. And he's not protecting his livelihood. Why does he want to shoot feral cats? ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"I get up in the morning and if there's new snow, there's cat tracks under my bird feeder. I look at them as an invasive species, plain and simple." That's what makes him a dick.

Apparently, in Wisconsin, there's a very low barrier to entry when it comes to state government. If you're a dick with a boneheaded idea, all you have to do is propose it, and it gets heard at a big public hearing, and then the Conservation Congress advises the state's department of natural resources, which would then make the legislative changes allowing anyone with a small-game license to fire away at any cat, so long as the cat is not under the owner's direct control or wearing a collar.

There are, in my mind, very few problems in this world for which "Let average people with guns shoot things they don't like" is an adequate solution. Average people are stupid. Do we really want to give the Mark Smiths of the world free license to decide what "direct control" consists of? Or let cat-hating dicks decide whether they really see a collar or not before they pull the trigger? This strikes me as an awful idea unless, perhaps, the feral cats are breaking into people's homes and eating their babies. Not scaring off birds in the backyard. Or even eating birds in the backyard. They won't kill all the birds, anyway, and the ones that survive will be super-fast, cat-dodging ULTRABIRDS.

And since Mark Smith is not Tippi Fucking Hedren, he can put his gun down and shut the fuck up.

Interestingly, the great Feral Cat Problem is based on a nine year old study by Dr. Stanley Temple, ecology professor at the University of Wisconsin. Temple apparently studied the contents of the stomachs of feral cats. This does, I will admit, show an astonishing devotion to the ecological sciences. I mean, I don't want to deal with the contents of MY cats' stomachs more than I have to, and my cats have the common decency to place those contents on my carpet first. A luxury I suspect Temple was not granted.

After all that work poking around in cat stomachs, Temple determined that feral cats in Wisconsin kill between 7.6 million and 216 million songbirds a year. I know cat stomachs are not a precision instrument, but that's a two order-of-magnitude range there, Doc. Turner sees the question of whether to let Mark Smith shoot cats as a "toss-up", an opinion I suspect is due both to the wide margin of his results and how far he lives from La Crosse.

Now, Smith's idea probably won't pass, because while Smith is a dick, he's a powerless dick who has suggested something that has gotten a lot of people hysterical and angry. He's even gotten a couple of "death threats". I hate when the news talks about "death threats". You know what they call a "death threat"? ACTUAL ALLEGED THREAT TIME!

"It should be ... open season on firefighters." - That is not a fucking death threat. That's a poor rhetorical choice. That person is not going to kill you. You do not have to fear the "turn your idea against you" people. Believe me, I get called "dumb" by people from time to time. It's not scary. Sad, yes. Scary, no.

I do find it interesting that all this outrage was sparked, for the most part, by news stories that didn't even expose the full extent of Smith's dickitude. Entire, wonderful gems of cockheadedness were present in the original interview in the La Crosse Times. Check these out.

"If I catch a cat in the yard in a live trap, I should be able to put that animal down." - Smith seems very confused about the nature of the "live trap". Here's a hint. They're not called "Save The Death For When You Can Watch And Revel In It Traps". Dick.

"There needs to be something to protect the average guy" - The average guy is not being hamstrung, brought down, and eaten by feral cats. I'm sure Google News would have said something if that were the case. You are not in danger of anything short of the occasional avian corpse in your yard. Which, while unpleasant, is not sufficient justification for vigilante justice.

Unless, of course, you're a dick.