Leg hold traps under 10.5cm wide are legal in New Zealand.
A vet is concerned that traps intended for possums are being used illegally in Warkworth and are injuring household pets.
One Warkworth resident, on Brown Road, recently had to have her cat put down after it was severely injured by a “gin trap.”
Dr Jon Makin, of Warkworth Vets, confirms that he has had two recent cases of cats being caught in traps.
He says typically a cat that has been injured by a trap will have to have its leg amputated.
“Often the skin has died at the point of contact, the bone has generally been exposed and blood supply has been cut off,” he says.
Dr Makin says traditional gin traps have been replaced in the New Zealand market by “leg-hold traps”with a rubber grip that can leave a cat relatively uninjured if the traps are checked regularly and the cats released.
“Typically, when we see cats they have been missing for several days. They have been able to escape, or are found and freed by the owner, but are seriously injured.”
Under the Animal Welfare Act, trappers are required to check leg hold traps every day.
According to the Ministry of Primary Industries, leg hold traps must not be set within 150 metres of dwellings without the permission of the resident.
It also says that they cannot be used in any area where the trap is likely to catch a pet.
Leg hold traps are popular among trappers who want to keep possums alive to harvest their fur. Fur can be hand plucked from possums within five minutes of death in a process known as ‘hot plucking,’ otherwise a machine is required.