Fears for Taieri Mouth pets

Where's Tom? . . . Taieri Mouth resident Bob Gillam believes some of his cats, including Tim's (pictured) brother Tom, may have been killed by snares. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON

RICHARD.DAVISON @alliedpress.co.nz

A Taieri Mouth animal lover is distraught snares may be trapping and killing pet cats in his area.
At any given time during the past decade, truck driver Bob Gillam has looked after as many as a dozen rescue cats on the grassy double section he shares with his son and grandchildren.
He said all was well until about four years ago when Tiger — a 10kg tabby he had adopted from Dunedin SPCA — vanished suddenly.
‘‘All of a sudden some of them started turning up sick, others would disappear without explanation and we had more turn up with snare marks around their necks,’’ Mr Gillam said.
‘‘They take a while to settle down when they’ve had an experience like that.
‘‘No living creature deserves to be treated that way.’’
Mr Gillam said four of 11 cats had disappeared during the past year, leaving seven missing their friends.
‘‘This here’s Tim. We haven’t seen his brother Tom for about a year now.’’
He said despite the multiple disappearances, a search of the neighbourhood had not revealed any bodies.
Although Taieri Mouth as a whole was ‘‘semi-rural’’, Mr Gillam said snare use in residential parts of town like his could not be justified.
‘‘I don’t think it’s someone trying to trap rabbits.
‘‘Snaring’s too indiscriminate, so I think it’s deliberately aimed at pets.’’
Although he liked cats for their ‘‘independence’’, they could also be good companions, he said.
‘‘I used to have one who’d come walking on the beach with me every day.
‘‘It’s not just me I’m worried about. Everyone’s got pets round here. They become part of the family.’’
Asked about possible motives for the disappearances, Mr Gillam, who also has five dogs and ‘‘a few fish’’ on his property, said some people were perhaps not as fond of animals as he was.
‘‘But if you have a beef with a neighbour, you talk to them, don’t attack their pets.’’
Clutha District Council regulations do not prescribe the number of cats permissible on residential properties, although an annual licence is required to house more than two dogs.
Domestic animals and stock must not be ‘‘a nuisance’’ to neighbours or the general public.
Ministry for Primary Industries trapping regulations, covered under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, permit the use of snares, but do not encourage it.
A spokeswoman said although snares were legal to sell and use, they were not recommended by officials.
‘‘[Snares] are not recommended by hunting or pest management groups and their use is not recognised as good practice,’’ she said.
‘‘The SPCA has raised concerns about these devices.
‘‘In addition, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee is considering recommendations to restrict or prohibit the use of snares.’’ ★ Have you had any concerns about pets being trapped or killed in your neighbourhood? Let us know.