The SPCA has prosecuted a Canterbury man for using an illegal trap for the purpose of capturing an animal.

Graham Witty was convicted on Wednesday, 29 May after a one-day trial at Christchurch District Court. He must pay $500 towards the SPCA and has been ordered to come up for sentence if called upon for one year.

The case started on June 27, 2017, when a City Care labourer noticed a noisy, flapping pukeko while working in Christchurch’s styx drain.

The SPCA said: “The labourer saw the bird’s leg was stuck in a serrated edge, size [1.5] long spring leg hold trap, secured to the defendant’s boundary fence in an area of shrubs and plants.”

The labourer released the bird from the trap. The bird’s leg detached just above the ankle.

One of the hidden traps inspectors seized on June 30, 2017. Photo credit: SPCA.

Another three traps were located on June 27, set and hidden amongst shrubs. Two more set traps were discovered the next day.

Two SPCA inspectors visited the site on June 30, discovering seven long spring leg hold traps secured to the nearby property’s boundary fence next to the drain.

The property, where the defendant lived, was issued a search warrant on July 4. Another five traps were seized.

“Four of these were prohibited long spring leg hold traps and 1 was a restricted double coil leg hold trap that contained the remains of an unidentifiable animal foot,” said the SPCA.

In a telephone conversation under caution, the defendant told an SPCA inspector that he had set the leg hold traps to catch “whatever was eating my plants”.

The Animal Welfare Order 2007 has prohibited the use of long spring leg hold traps since January 1, 2009.

“Leg-hold traps negatively impact an animal’s welfare because of the physical injuries and the psychological effects, such as anxiety, pain, fear, or distress,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA CEO.

Traps set in residential areas also increase the risk of injury to pet cats and dogs.

Midgen says the case needs to draw attention to buyer responsibility. Buyers need to understand the types of traps they are using, and the specifications and legalities of animal trapping more broadly.

“No leg-hold trap may be used within 150m of a dwelling without the permission of the occupier, or in any area where there is a probable risk of catching a pet animal,” says Midgen.

“Essentially, buyer beware.”



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