I am strongly against the approval of the proposed Schultz Fur Farm near Roy, MT.
My first and foremost concern is for the welfare of the animals. According to the EA, the bobcats will be housed in wire-floored cages which are only 24 square feet in size. This is far too small to comfortably house an adult bobcat, as the American Zoological Association recommends a minimum enclosure size of at least 42 square feet per cat. The wire floors will cause great discomfort or even injury to the animal’s feet, and the total lack of enrichment for these intelligent, wild animals will likely result in neurotic behaviors. In fact, the conditions which Mr. Schultz plans on farming his bobcats in would be illegal in most other states. Why should Montana allow it?
Furthermore, because there are no federal regulations regarding the humane treatment or slaughter of animals on fur farms, the cats can legally be slaughtered in the most inhumane ways. Genital electrocution, which induces painful cardiac seizures in the cat by running a powerful electrical current through his body, is a very common slaughter method, despite being deemed “unacceptable” by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Other slaughter methods include gassing, poisoning, neck-breaking, and bludgeoning. Sometimes, these methods fail, and animals are skinned alive, all for a product which nobody needs in this age of synthetic materials. The fur industry is so undeniably cruel and unnecessary that several countries, including Austria, Croatia, and the United Kingdom, have banned fur farms within their borders. Many Montana and U.S. citizens are also strongly against the fur farming industry, so allowing Schultz to set up shop in the state will tarnish the state’s good name and set the stage for a firestorm of condemnation. All for a product that’s only worth, at the most, $300 per pelt – so it won’t be a major revenue source for the state.
The bottom line is that wildcats are not mere “crops” to be farmed, they are living, sentient animals whose welfare must be considered.
I am also concerned that Mr. Schultz will sell some kittens into the profitable pet trade, as he has in the past. This is an extremely reckless act. The kittens are bottlefed and sold to unsuspecting consumers who think they are buying a “tame” animal. But the truth is that, even when hand-raised from birth, a bobcat can never be truly domesticated and will always retain its wild instincts. A fully-grown bobcat is perfectly capable of killing small children and pets or causing serious injury to an adult. Encouraging people to take these wild animals into their homes creates a very real public safety risk and puts additional strain on wildlife sanctuaries, which are already bursting at the seams with unwanted “pets”.
There are also some serious reservations about the environmental impact of the proposed farm. According to the EA, the manure the cats produce will be used as fertilizer on the property’s fields. This has the potential to be very risky to both the environment and to public health. Cat feces have more than twice as much nitrogen as the same amount of manure from cattle. If this nitrogen “runs off”, local waterways could be adversely affected. Even more concerning is the presence of parasites and infectious agents in wildcat feces. According to an article published in the scientific journal Veterinary Parasitology, 51.7% of wild bobcats surveyed tested positive for the presence of the toxoplasma gondii parasite, which is not affected by ivermectin and can be spread to humans and other animals via fecal matter. This study also found that captive wildcats often have even higher infection rates than their wild counterparts. The authors of the paper found that “such levels of infestation are of public health concern, as these wild felids… …could pose a public health risk to the water supply.” For this reason, Cornell University warns, “It is not recommended that homeowners use any manure from cats or other meat-eating animals, since there is risk of parasites or disease organisms that can be transmitted to humans.” T. gondii can cause encephalitis, neurological diseases, blindness, and even death in immunocompromised persons. The toxic chemicals which must be used to preserve the furs after they’ve been harvested may also put the environment at risk.
Once again, I implore you to deny the permit for Larry Schultz’s proposed fur farm. This outdated, cruel, and unnecessary industry has no place in Montana. It will cause undue pain and suffering to the animals, put public health and safety at risk, and result in very little economic impact for the state. I don’t want a fur farm in Montana, and neither should you.
This petition closed 8 months ago
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is seeking public comment on the proposal until August 30th. This petition will be sent to the department, sending them the clear message that fur farming is not acceptable in Montana.