A pet owner has been warned he could be fined £1,000 after he put up missing cat posters in his local neighbourhood.
Mike Harding appealed for the public's help in finding his beloved tabby, Wookie, on A4-sized sheets that he posted on trees, lampposts and parking meters.
But instead of being contacted with good news, the 44-year-old driving instructor, from Bedford, was called on December 22 by an environmental officer from the local council who told him he could be prosecuted if the posters were not removed within 48 hours.
Mr Harding, who has had seven-year-old Wookie since he was a kitten, said most of the posters were held in place with cable ties but when they ran out he used tacks on four trees.
After being told he could be fined up to £1,000 if he did not remove the posters, he rushed around the streets tearing them down and finally finished at 3am on Christmas Eve, just six hours before the deadline he had been given.
He told the Daily Mail: "I'm a law-abiding citizen yet I'm being threatened with a £1,000 fine for looking for my cat. You would think the council would have some compassion."
A spokeswoman for Bedford Borough Council said: "Our Environmental Enforcement Team discovered over 20 of Mr Harding's 'lost cat' posters.
"Some of these were nailed, with the use of one-inch nails, to eight trees along the embankment. Nailing a tree pierces its bark and can allow fungal spores etc to break down the tree's defences, which can lead on to secondary infections. As well as damaging trees, flyposting is also illegal and may lead to fines of up to £1,000.
"However, an Environmental Enforcement Officer contacted Mr Harding, on the 22nd December, to inform him we were prepared to treat this as an isolated incident and would not pursue a prosecution provided the signs were removed within 48 hours of receipt of the warning letter, or by 9am on 24th December at the latest."
She added that, because Mr Harding had removed all the posters, the council was now satisfied the matter had been resolved. Wookie, who went missing in late November, has not yet been found.