SEOUL, Nov. 14 (Korea Bizwire) — Feeding cats in national parks is an act of disturbing the ecosystem and is strictly prohibited. However, a lack of awareness is causing a series of disputes among the public.
Recently, a number of complaints demanded that officials refrain from capturing and killing the cats in Mt. Seorak National Park or release them in places where they don’t belong.
The dispute began with a banner that was put up last spring that said “feeding stray cats or wild animals in a national park destroys the environment.”
A visitor read the banner and misunderstood the park’s intent that officials were trying to “eliminate” stray cats in the area, and encouraged others to submit complaints online.
For the ecosystem, cats are an external threat as they hunt small birds and animals, not necessarily to feed on them.
As such, cats that enter national parks, wetlands, and other protected areas are considered ‘wild animals’ and subject to capture.
This comes in contrast to where cats are protected in cities and other areas by the Ministry of Food and Rural Affairs and local authorities based on the Animal Protection Act.
Sources showed that a total of 1,269 cats were captured in national parks from 2015 to September of this year.
Most of the cats that are captured are neutered and released back to their original habitat.
Captured cats were slaughtered until 2017. Due to ethical reasons, however, captured cats have been released back into the wild since 2018 after being neutered.
This, however, isn’t the complete solution. Neutering only deprives cats of their ability and will to reproduce. Neutered cats that are released still hunt and feed.
Cats have the instinct to protect their territory. Once they’re neutered, however, they lose the ability to do so, allowing other cats to freely trespass their territory, repeating the same problem over and over.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)