Police have strongly condemned the use of illegal snares after a family’s beloved pet cat died an agonising death entangled in wire.
Nine-year-old Emily Oakden was distraught after her 18-month-old pet Skittles was discovered cowering beneath a tractor at the family farm in Dunbog in severe pain.
Her dad James rushed the cat to the vet still caught up in the wire but he died a week later of horrific internal injuries.
“Emily had had Skittles since he was six weeks old and he was a much-loved pet,” said James.
“I found him under a trailer one morning, so he’d obviously managed to drag himself back to the farm despite being in terrible discomfort.
“I managed to lift him still entangled in the snare but despite a week’s hospitalisation the vet couldn’t save him.
“It is a horrible, cruel practice and so unnecessary. Emily is still very distressed about the incident.”
Mr Oakden – who was faced with a vets’ bill of £1000 – took the snare to the police, but because Skittles had dragged himself back to the farm, they were unable to identify where the snare had been laid or by whom.
PC Lindsay Kerr, Fife’s wildlife and environmental crime co-ordinator, said: “Police Scotland want to take this opportunity to highlight the dangers of illegal and irresponsible trapping and snaring in the countryside.
“Snaring in Scotland is necessary to ensure that damage to crops, livestock, trees, game and other wildlife and their habitats can be reduced to an acceptable level to maintain Scotland’s unique rural biodiversity.
“Snaring is a vital tool to achieve these ends, because of the diverse landscape and types of cover. Snaring is legal but is subject to many restrictions.
“When conducted in accordance with the law and with the practitioners’ guide, snaring is an effective and humane form of control.
“Elmwood College, Cupar, which is one of Scotland’s Rural Colleges, runs excellent courses on land management and gamekeeping, which include detailed lessons on trapping and snaring.
“Anyone interested in this area of land management should consult one of the many expert organisations in Scotland such as the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).”
Kenny Willmitt, development officer for the BASC, explained it is the responsibility of the practitioner to ensure the methods they use are legal, humane and carried out in accordance with best practice and with respect for other countryside users.
He said all those using snares legally in Scotland must have sat and passed an accreditation course.
“Obviously, the person who set this snare had not been trained and was therefore acting illegally, and irresponsibly,” commented Mr Willmitt.
Meanwhile, the Scottish SPCA has called for an outright ban on snaring.
Following a previous incident, in which a cat died a ‘prolonged and horrendous death’ the charity’s chief superintendant Mike Flynn said: “It’s not at all uncommon for domestic animals, as well as wildlife, to be caught in snares, which are indiscriminate and cruel. While snaring continues, suffering will continue.”