A cat-killing competition designed for children in New Zealand has been cancelled following heavy backlash.
Organisers of the North Canterbury Hunting Competition – which typically sees hundreds of competitors compete to kill wild pigs, deer and hares – were criticised after they announced a new category for children to hunt feral cats.
Youngsters were told to not kill pets, but were instead encouraged to kill as many feral cats as possible for a prize of NZ$250 – which equates to £124.
The event drew immediate criticism from various animal welfare groups within the country and was subsequently cancelled.
Organisers of the annual hunt announced the cancellation of the cat section of the event on Tuesday, saying they had received “vile and inappropriate emails”.
The New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it was relieved the “children’s category which involved shooting feral cats” was abandoned.
Measures to control the feral cat population are the subject of heated debate in New Zealand, where it is estimated that feral cats could be responsible for the deaths of as many as over one million native birds every year.