A hunting competition in New Zealand has come under fire from the New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) for asking children under the age of 14 to kill feral cats.
The North Canterbury Hunting Competition, which aims to raise money for a local school, was offering $250 to the child who killed the most feral cats by late June, according to the New Zealand Herald.
“Organisers have stated that cats will be scanned for the presence of a microchip to identify pet cats, however, this will be done after the animal has been shot and killed,” the SPCA said in a statement seen by the Herald.
They added on Facebook that it isn't possible to tell the difference between pet cats, strays, and feral cats purely on sight, putting people's pets at risk.
"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," they added. "Our SPCA Inspector Lead here in Christchurch says cases of cats being shot which don’t result in immediate death aren’t uncommon, with one happening just yesterday, 17 April."
The competition's organizers have since decided to call off the competition.
"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. We are disappointed and apologise for those who were excited to be involved in something that is about protecting out native birds, and other vulnerable species," they wrote in a statement on Facebook, adding "to clarify, for all hunting categories, our hunters are required to abide by firearms act 1983 and future amendments as well as the animal welfare act 1999."
Similar competitions have of course been run in the past, when people were even more willing than today to let children run around shooting live animals. One notable incident saw California ask children to get out there and destroy the "squirrel army", and bring tails to their schools as proof of their kill, resulting in a tremendous stench.
The competition saw around 100,000 squirrels meet their maker, all within the space of a week.