Bendigo woman in firing line after posing with feral cats she killed with bow and arrow

Cat killer or wildlife warrior? 

That is the debate raging online after a Bendigo woman posed for a photograph alongside three cats she shot dead with a bow and arrow.  

In the image posted to Facebook on Tuesday evening, Renee Sullivan is shown wearing camouflage and holding her weapon. The caption, “Today I managed to wait these guys out and get my first kill of species, 3 cats. One happy chappy,” accompanies the picture. 

Ms Sullivan’s post caused a stir when circulated by other social media users, some of whom claimed the act was barbaric. 

Others, however, argued the 20-year-old was performing a vital community service by culling the feral animal.  

The Marong woman responded to her online critics, saying the cats would have grown up to be wildlife killers.  

“They were born feral and remain feral, they had no chance at being domesticated,” she wrote on Facebook.

“There are many people who do this, I am not the only one.”

She also said their deaths were “instant” and more humane than biological controls. 

But RSPCA Victoria chief executive officer Liz Walker did not support the hunter’s view, explaining an arrow from even the most competent marksperson did not result in a humane death.

“When an animal is fatally shot with a bow, it can take several minutes for them to die and it will suffer severe pain over this period due to the high level of tissue trauma and damage to organs,” Dr Walker said.  

Ms Sullivan said she had volunteered for the animal welfare agency. 

Cat kills in frame

When contacted, Ms Sullivan said she hunted the animals on a friend’s private property where they posed a risk to newborn lambs. 

Asked why she posed for a picture with her bounty, the self-described cat lover said: “If you don't get a photo with an animal, you can't claim it.” 

Since first picking up a bow seven months ago, Ms Sullivan has posted to Instagram images of rabbits she shot and expressed her desire to hunt deer.  

A spokeswoman for the Australian Bowhunters Association, of which Ms Sullivan is a member, said the organisation had policies about how hunters photograph their prey. 

She said the ABA recommends no photographs be taken of bloodied animals, or ones with arrows still in them.

No internal organs should be visible, the spokeswoman said.

“We understand it can make people uncomfortable,” she said. 

Government description of feral cats' impact on nature.

Government description of feral cats' impact on nature.

“The photograph should treat animals with respect and acknowledge it was a life taken.”  

Ms Sullivan, also a former Bendigo Animal Welfare and Community Services worker, said she was sent dozens of hateful messages online in the last 24 hours and implored people to do their research on the damage feral cats caused before reaching a conclusion. 

“I’m not out there slaughtering all the animals, I’d never kill an animal that’s a pet,” she said. 

An Agriculture Victoria website entry about feral cats said the animal posed a threat to the survival of many native species, including small mammals, birds and reptiles.

They were also implicated in the failure reintroduction programs for endangered species the numbat, bilby and bandicoot, the website read. 

Feral cats are also potential carriers of disease which may be harmful to stock and native animals.

But bow hunting was not the way to control the animal, according to the RSPCA. 

“RSPCA Victoria acknowledges that, in certain circumstances, it is necessary to manage populations of wild animals, such as feral cats,” Dr Walker said.

“Bow hunting is not an effective method of controlling pest animals, as it is carried out by individual hunters and targeting only one animal at a time.”