A man captured a neighbour's pet cat in a leg-hold trap to prevent it from hunting birds on his property.

Paul Parsons was convicted on a charge of using a prohibited trap for the purpose of capturing an animal and fined $500 in the Palmerston North District Court. He was also and ordered to pay $130 in court costs and a $250 contribution to legal costs.

In October last year a black short-haired cat was found by its owner caught in a serrated-edge leg-hold trap on Parsons' Palmerston North property. The trap was secured to the base of a tree and the cat's right foreleg was caught in it.

The owner struggled to free the cat from the trap. Parsons refused to assist initially, but after a heated altercation, and input from his wife, he reluctantly agreed, said Ric Odom, chief executive of SPCA NZ.


A vet exam showed the cat had two fractures in its paw, and it had puncture wounds on both sides. The vet said there would have been "significant pain and fear" induced by the trapping.

A search warrant was carried out on Parsons' home two days later and the trap was seized. When interviewed, he admitted that he had set the trap for the purpose of capturing the cat to prevent it from hunting birds on his property.

"The actions of the defendant are clearly completely unacceptable and irresponsible," Mr Odom said.

"What if a small child had caught their hand or foot in the trap? Leg-hold traps have absolutely no place in urban areas. No one should be setting these cruel traps anywhere near houses or where domestic pets may be caught in them.

"The SPCA wants this conviction to send a clear message to anyone considering setting leg-hold traps - and the message is: don't do it."

Mr Odom said the Animal Welfare (Leg-hold Traps) Order 2007 had prohibited the use of size 1½ long-spring, leg-hold traps since January 2009.

"The Animal Welfare Order states that no leg-hold traps can be used within 150m of a dwelling without the express permission of the occupier or in any area where there is a probable risk of catching a companion animal."