Cat-killing contest for children in New Zealand offering prize for gunning down the most feral felines cancelled after backlash

19 April 2023, 21:37 | Updated: 19 April 2023, 21:59

A cat-killing competition for children in New Zealand that was offering a cash prize for shooting the most feral felines has been cancelled after a backlash.
A cat-killing competition for children in New Zealand that was offering a cash prize for shooting the most feral felines has been cancelled after a backlash. Picture: Alamy

By Chris Samuel

A cat-killing competition in New Zealand that was offering children a cash prize for shooting the most feral felines has been cancelled after a backlash.

Organisers of an annual hunting challenge faced criticism after it announced a new category for children aged 14 and under to hunt feral cats - which are regarded as pests in the country.

The North Canterbury Hunting Competition was planning to award £124 to the youngster able to shoot the most feral cats between mid-April and the end of June.

But it has since announced it has cancelled the cat event amid criticism and concerns for the safety of domestic cats, as it condemned those who had sent "vile and inappropriate emails".

Critics of the competition had feared household pets could end up in the firing line as children wouldn't be able to tell the difference between household and feral cats.

Read more: Missing X-Factor star Levi Davis feared to have drowned in sea off Barcelona as detectives make crucial breakthrough

Read more: XR co-founder denies headline-grabbing stunts by groups like Just Stop Oil pushed them into resuming direct action

Animal charity SPCA - the country's version of the RSPCA - had said it was "extremely concerned" about the event, but said it couldn't take action because the practice isn't illegal.

It added: "It's not possible to tell the difference between a feral, stray or frightened domestic cat based on appearance, so there is a good chance someone's pet may be killed during this event.

"In addition, children often use air rifles in these sorts of event which increase the likelihood of pain and distress, and can cause a prolonged death."

Stock image of a cat on grass
Stock image of a cat on grass. Picture: Alamy

A spokesperson for welfare charity Safe told local media outlet 1News: "We should be teaching our tamariki [children] empathy towards animals, not handing them the tools to kill them," a spokesman for the animal welfare charity Safe told local media outlet 1News.

In a statement, the competition's organisers said the cat hunting category has been scrapped to avoid further blowback.

"Our sponsors and school safety are our main priority, so the decision has been made to withdraw this category for this year to avoid further backlash at this time," it said.

Read more: Security officers at Heathrow set for eight more strike days in pay dispute

Read more: Family calls for justice after Brit drank 22 shots and died at Polish strip club as police arrest seven 'gang members'

"We are disappointed and apologise for those who were excited to be involved in something that is about protecting our native birds, and other vulnerable species."

It added that participants in their hunts are required to adhere to firearms and animal welfare laws.

The competition's Facebook post announcing the move received over a 100 comments, with many defending the event.

"If only people knew the damage wild cats cause around the place," one local wrote.

She concluded: "They also [have] an effect on our farming. Wild cats carry diseases... we will just keep shooting them for as long as we keep seeing them."

However, other parts of the competition in which children are encouraged to shoot wild pigs and wild deer, will go ahead as planned.

According to New Zealand's Department of Conservation, feral cats, which are widespread in the country, have a "major impact" on the island country's native birds, bats, lizards and mice.

Poison, traps and guns are used by officials to manage the population.

Biosecurity expert Dr Helen Blackie said that that feral cats had caused the extinction of six bird species, and the decline in populations of frogs, lizards, and bats.

Speaking to Radio New Zealand, she also said that as they aren't officially classed as pests in Canterbury, there aren't any measures in effect to monitor or control them.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Abdul Ezedi died by suicide, a coroner has ruled

Clapham chemical attacker Abdul Ezedi drowned himself hours after assaulting a mother and her two daughters

Exclusive
Suella Braverman has said she would vote for Donald Trump if she was a US citizen, claiming "the world will be safer" if the Republican presidential hopeful wins the November election.

Sullea Braverman reveals she would vote for Trump if she were American because 'the world would be safer'

Exclusive
Suella Braverman.

Suella Braverman slams Labour scrapping the Rwanda plan claiming it signals the UK is 'open' to illegal migration

Breaking
Breaking News

Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary found guilty of directing terrorist organisation Al-Muhajiroun

Breaking
Zara McDermott opened up about the "extremely distressing" events that occurred behind the scenes at Strictly Come Dancing.

'The line should never be crossed': BBC boss apologises for Strictly Come Dancing abuse controversy

Italy Walkway Collapse

Walkway collapses in Italy housing project, killing two and injuring a dozen

Up to five professionals could face the axe on next year’s Strictly Come Dancing

Long-serving strictly stars could face cull following scandals around alleged abusive behaviour

A man has been left fighting for life after being attacked at Seven Sisters

Man fights for life after stabbing at London Underground station - as two women arrested

The girl's mum, dad, and two little sisters died in the crash along with a motorbike rider and pillion passenger

Orphaned girl, 11, to live with aunt after losing whole family in horror car crash - as fundraiser passes £260,000

Tributes have been paid to Harry Savage after the reality TV star was found dead

Tributes pour in for Harry Savage after reality TV star found dead in home

Three men in suits

Hamas and Fatah sign deal to end years-long rift after talks in China

Crowd of people on a hillside

Death toll in Ethiopia mudslides rises to 157 as search operations continue

The bodycam footage of a black woman getting shot by a white police officer has been released

Shocking bodycam footage shows police shooting black woman dead in her home after she rang 911

Tributes have been paid to Clodagh Phelan who died after falling from a hotel balcony in Majorca

Tributes paid to Irish girl Clodagh Phelan, 11, who died in fall from Majorca hotel balcony

Ex-home sec James Cleverley has branded Yvette Cooper's £700m figure as "nonsense"

'It's nonsense': Former Home Secretary James Cleverly accuses Yvette Cooper of 'making up' £700m Rwanda figure

It's time to scrap the two-child limit, says leader of the largest investigation of the cap's impact on families.

Forget politics, think families: It's time to scrap two-child limit