A LEADING animal welfare charity has slammed MSPs who last week rejected a complete ban on the use of snares in Scotland after a family pet was killed on a Haddington farm at the weekend.
The dead body of black and white cat Tom was found on Saturday caught in a wire slipknot on Monkrigg Farm. He had been missing for two weeks.
The incident happened just four months after the four-year-old moggie had got caught in another snare in the Haddington area, though he had managed to free himself.
His owner, Julie Renton, was “heartbroken” to discover her family’s pet had been fatally injured in a second trap and animal welfare organisation, the National Anti-Snaring Campaign, has renewed its call for a complete ban on the use of snares in Scotland, in the wake of MSPs voting against such a measure last week.
Mrs Renton, 41, of Monkmains Road, Haddington, said: “I am absolutely heartbroken as he was my boy – I have two daughters so he was treated like a family member.
“He had been missing for two weeks and I had put posters everywhere. The man that found him was out riding his horse last Friday and saw him stuck in the fence. When he went in to town on Saturday he saw my [missing pet] poster and rang me up.
“My husband, Alister, then went to see if it was Tom, and it was. Tom got caught in a snare in November, but managed to free himself and he came home with it round his neck.
“My 12-year-old daughter Chloe even set up a Facebook page after he was caught in the snare the first time called Stop Use of Illegal Snares (animal trappers).
“These snares should be banned all together. It was just a wire slipknot, not even a proper snare.”
Chloe’s Facebook page has nearly 150 supporters.
Julie added: “I also think the people responsible should have hefty sentences. How do they know they are only going to catch rabbits or game? I want to raise as much awareness as I can that this does happen in East Lothian.”
Andrew Bain, who farms the 150-acre Monkrigg site on behalf of owner James Manclark, denied responsibility for the snare being placed on the site.
He told the Courier: “We have not given anyone permission to put snares on the ground at Monkrigg.
“Having said that, there is a huge rabbit problem there. I’m guessing that anyone who is interested in shooting or catching rabbits will know that.
“We are not actively involved in anything like that. It’s something that happens less and less these days, but it does happen. We don’t have any strong views on it.”
He continued: “There’s no way anyone could go into the woodland, checking morning and night, to see what’s been done. That side of Haddington historically has had its fair share of poachers and I would suggest that you can’t stop it.”
Monkrigg is used mostly to grow cereal. There are also grass fields and woodland within the farm.
Kelvin Pate, past president of NFUS East Lothian branch, said: “Snares are something that are controversial but it’s a vermin-control measure. A cat is the same size as a rabbit.
“But I can understand why the owner is annoyed – we’ve had a dog caught in a snare before, though fortunately there was no harm done.”
Last week, MSPs voted for toughened regulation of wildlife protection laws while debating a new Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill, though voted against completely prohibiting the use of snares.
An amendment to the new Bill, lodged by Scottish Labour MSP Irene Oldfather, would have created an outright ban on the manufacture, sale, possession and use of snares in Scotland. However, the amendment was defeated by 72 votes to 50.
But MSPs did support a review of the legislation every five years, as well as further amendments on record-keeping.
The National Anti-Snaring Campaign has criticised the politicians’ decision in the wake of Tom’s death.
Simon Wild, founder of the charity, said: “I hope MSPs are proud of their decision to keep snares legal in Scotland. Those who voted against moves to ban snares in Scotland have now got this cat’s suffering on what exists of their conscience.
“In some months we get reports of several cats dying or injured in snares.”
County MSP Iain Gray had been among those who backed a ban.
Mr Gray said: “I have real concerns that snares are an indiscriminate and inhumane type of pest control. Last week I supported a Labour amendment to the Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill which would have created an outright ban.
“Sadly MSPs from other parties blocked such a ban, but I think it’s something future parliaments will look at again.”