Open Season on Feral Animals in Utah
Update: Great news! HB 210 (anti-feral) died in the Senate, while SB 57 (pro-feral) passed. A big 'thank you' to everyone who contacted their legislators about these bills.
The Utah House of Representatives has just passed House Bill 210 to make it legal for any citizen to shoot an animal he or she believes to be feral in areas where hunting is not prohibited.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Curt Oda, says the bill is meant to protect farmers and ranchers from prosecution for animal cruelty when they have to control feral animals. However, current Utah law already allows farmers and ranchers to protect their property by granting exemptions to the state animal protection laws.
HB 210 is a "solution" in search of a problem. The real consequences, if this bill were to become law, would be to expose feral animals to wanton, inhumane killing, and to make companion animals easy targets for anyone toting a gun. Trap-Neuter-Return programs are the more sensible, effective and humane way to handle feral cats, and another bill -- SB 57 -- aimed at assisting these valuable programs has been introduced.
HB 210 has already made the Utah legislature the target of jokes, but if put into effect, the law will be no joking matter.
What You Can Do
Utah residents: Send a polite letter to your state senator to urge a vote against HB 210.