Police are to ‘specifically target’ alleged hunting in Monkstown Wood amid fears that local residents’ cats are being stolen for dog baiting.
In last week’s Times, owners of missing cats from Whiteabbey’s Glenville Road told of their fears after 11 animals disappeared in two months.
An urgent warning message was placed on the Lost and Found Pets County Antrim Facebook page, warning residents in Newtownabbey, Antrim and East Belfast that more than 60 cats have recently gone missing.
Residents have formed a Community Pet Watch Action Group and are organising a public meeting in Glenville Community Centre to discuss the issue.
This week, the PSNI’s Newtownabbey and Carrickfergus Facebook page appealed for the public to come forward with information. Inspector Stephen McGuigan stated: “I am aware that there is a great amount of public concern about the welfare of animals and particularly rumours of animal baiting.
“My colleagues and I did a walk through of Monkstown Wood today (September 18) and we found no evidence of animal traps.
“That is not to say it isn’t happening-I know there is information out there in the community and I would appeal for you to share it with us-you don’t have to give your name and you will not be identified.
“I understand that people feel in fear for the local wildlife and indeed their own pets.I feel your anguish and I am willing to listen to your concerns, but most importantly we need to hear about suspicious activity.
“Also, if you have a concern for your pets please ensure for the time being at least that if you have a cat you keep an eye on it and if possible maybe just keep it in the house. Also with dogs, take them for walks and don’t let them out to stray on their own.
“We are aware of cats going missing but right now there are very few direct reports from cat owners. Contact us and provide us with the details.”
Inspector McGuigan added that foot and cycle patrols will be increased in Monkstown Wood.
He continued: “This area belongs to the Woodland Trust and Newtownabbey Borough Council. No one has permission to hunt here and if local police find that this has been happening we will proactively search out the perpetrators. My team will be in the area specifically targeting this activity at all hours.”
Anyone with informaton is asked to phone the non-emergency number 101 and ask for Newtownabbey police.