Is the US Military Still Targeting Feral Cats in South Korea?

It’s been more than 2 months since the killings and mutilations of feral and stray cats in Hawaii and South Korea were reported.

Schofield Barracks Army Base in Hawaii became controversial after KAT Charities Animal Rescue revealed incidents of mutilation and shooting of feral cats by soldiers using blow darts that were bought from Indonesia.

In South Korea, Osan Air Base was blasted by animal rights groups when someone tipped off public broadcaster KBS and Beagle Rescue Network about the merciless killing of stray cats by the military with air guns.

Hawaii, Two Months After: Did the Promised Investigation Make a Difference?

Katniss was one of the stray cats that was rescued by KAT Charities.
A blow dart pierced her neck, and she was quickly taken to a veterinary hospital after being found by the organization’s volunteers.

Fortunately, she survived after the dart was removed from her neck. After two weeks of recuperation, Popoki and Tea opened its door to her so Katniss could enjoy a better, safer life in a new forever home. Meanwhile, Catopia Hawaii also helped by shouldering half of Katniss’s veterinary bills.

Meanwhile, there is no more news about the promised investigation of the US Army after they learned about what was happening to the feral cats around Schofield Barracks.

In a statement published via KITV 4 on June 3, 2022, a US Army spokespenson assured the public that they would look into the matter.

“U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii was just made aware and is initiating an investigation into these reports. We cannot speculate about the details at this time while the investigation is ongoing. We ask that witnesses with first-hand information contact Schofield Barracks Military Police at (808) 655-5555. This type of behavior is not tolerated on the installation and is not in keeping with our Army values.”

It’s been more than two months since that statement; perhaps they had really conducted an investigation and found out who were responsible for the blow-darting and mutilation of stray cats around the base.

Since there are no more reports of cats having been harmed by blow darts, maybe something did change for the betterment of defenseless animals like Katniss. It’s hard to say at this point.

South Korea, Two Months After: Still No Response from the US Military

Birds and other wildlife have always been a constant problem to US military bases wherever they are in the world. After all, most of the lands they have occupied were the home of wildlife. They also fly their planes in the air space where birds have been travelling for hundreds, or even thousands, of years.

Now, it is the trespassers who are eliminating the original inhabitants because these animals have become a nuisance and a danger to their activities.

In Osan Air Base, more than 10 feral cats were reported to have been killed by US soldiers using gunfire and air guns. No investigation was promised, except for the words coming from an official that was published on Korean Herald on May 24, 2020 — that the cat killings were “done according to the rules,” but that the practice had been halted since the beginning of the year.

Could those words be trusted? And what are they doing with feral and stray cats this time?

Kunsan Air Base: Proud of Getting Rid of Feral and Stray Cats with Methods that Include Predator calls, Noise Cannons, and Shotgun

Under the Bird/wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard (BASH) program of the Kunsan Air Base, it’s true that feral and stray cats are not their only target. Any bird or wildlife that would endanger their pilots or damage their aircraft must be eliminated.

As published on their website since 2017, “airmen patrol the flightline daily using three primary methods to deter these hazards. Those methods include predator calls, noise cannons and shotguns. Maximizing the safety of pilots and minimizing the risk of damage to aircraft continue to be key objectives for the BASH program.”

Photo: Facebook Video/Beagle Rescue Network

It’s a license to kill any hazards without remorse. After all, the lives of the pilots and the welfare of their aircraft are at stake.

But, what may be worth noting is that the BASH Program that “keeps JBSA-Kelly Field safe” in Texas does not mention the use of any shotguns to get rid of dogs and coyotes. Anyone would think that a more powerful strategy would be used to eliminate coyotes, which are a much bigger problem than cats. These animals have now invaded North America, and they do pose a risk to people’s lives including their livestock and pets.

Instead, Bryan Wilmunen, 502nd Air Base Wing aviation safety program manager, states: “The best way to deal with the dogs and coyotes is to sort of follow and chase them until they find an opening in the fence line. When we have an aircraft strike of an animal, it’s never good for the animal.”

The BASH Program of the Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA) also has strategies for dealing with birds, especially “doves, meadowlarks, grackles, bats and falcons. Vultures often cause the most damage because there are groups of them that swarm around any carcasses near the airfield.”

Their goal, according to Wilmunen, is to make the airfield unattractive to wildlife.

Not to hunt animals around the base to extinction with the use of blow darts, gun fire, pellet guns, and knives.

It seems that the Bird/Wildlife Air Strike Hazard (BASH) teams in some US military bases have lost sight of the true principles of the program. According to the Air Force Pest Management Board, the goal of the BASH Team is “the preservation of warfighting capabilities through the reduction of wildlife hazards to aircraft operations.”

Reduction of wildlife hazards is not the same as committing acts of animal cruelty. There are many ways to disinterest wildlife from going to off-limits vicinities, such as the strategies being carried out in JBSA-Kelly Field, where they even maintain the grass around the base at a certain length and plant just one type of grass to deter pests.

In fact, based on scientific studies, cruelty to animals is a sign of a violent character that will worsen with time to the point that it will result in committing brutal crimes against other human beings.

It’s time for those soldiers who are going wayward to retrace their steps and rediscover what should be their core values and real mission.

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