Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Yesterday the twitterverse in Korea exploded with the news of a plan by the district of Namgu in Ulsan (close to Busan, in the south of the country) to offer cash rewards to people who would capture street cats. The planned campaign was said to be (paraphrasing) a "unique way to reduce the hindrance and damage caused by street cats".
Such a campaign might not have raised much of a fuss a decade or two ago, but as I have written before (here and here for example), Korea is on the verge of becoming a cat-loving country. From personal experience alone I get the impression that a slight majority still sees cats as pests, but this is continuing to decrease.
After the planned campaign hit the news Twitter exploded, and the bulletin boards on the websites of Ulsan and Namgu district filled up with messages on the planned campaign. The most retweeted one was this one that I retweeted as well:
Fast forward a day, and the Namgu website now has the following popup:
What it says is this:
"Announcement about street cats
This is to announce that we have no plans in our city district to order the capture of cats or award money to those who do."
So just one day after the news we either have a backtrack or a clarification in order to calm the flood of emails and messages and tweets that have been coming in.
It is possible that the city was thinking of something along the lines of this article from two years ago - the article details how some cities in Gyeonggi-do (the province surrounding Seoul) have given money to those who capture cats...who are then neutered and released, no harm done. This so-called TNR (trap-neuter-release) program is the only way to achieve a happy balance between those that do and don't like cats, and it is also the only way to assure a stable population.
According to this article from today, the local government is saying that they have been neutering street cats since June and this "campaign" was a mistake - perhaps they were planning to carry out a reward program in the same way the other cities mentioned have. Who knows. In any case, Ulsan would like you to know that it definitely does not pay people to capture street cats and please just leave us alone now we really don't pay people to do that and have no plans to do so....