A fox has been seriously injured after an illegal trap snared its leg - and it looks like the trap was set deliberately.

The RSPCA fears that someone in the Swindon area is intentionally setting the deadly traps which have been outlawed for more than 60 years.

The fox was rescued by RSPCA inspector Steph Daly after being found with a gin trap clamped around her front leg on Thursday, July 23.

A member of the public contacted the animal welfare charity after discovering the fox hanging off the ground, unable to escape the trap’s firm clap at 7.40am in the Haydon Wick area.

Steph, who carried out the rescue, said: “It’s shocking to think that this poor fox had spent several hours suffering with this awful metal trap hanging from her leg.

"I’ve been an RSPCA inspector for a long time and have seen some awful cruelty and unspeakable injuries during that time but seeing this fox hanging like that left me really upset.

“She was off the ground, hanging through a garden fence with the trap caught horizontally between the metal bars of the fencing, and was surrounded by blood from another injury to her leg.

“Thankfully, I managed to help her free from the fencing and the trap, and she’s now been taken to a vet for emergency treatment.”

Steph is appealing to anyone who has information about this trap and where it was set to call the RSPCA inspectorate appeal line in complete confidence on 0300 123 8018.

South West Farmer:

The gin trap. Picture: RSPCA

She added: “We would also ask local people in the area to be vigilant and to keep an eye out for these traps.

"Not only is it illegal to set a gin trap, it is also illegal to cause an animal to suffer as a result. We have seen domestic animals, especially cats, fall victim to these traps many times.

“Gin traps are mechanical devices designed to catch an animal by its leg or head, using spring-operated jaws with teeth or serrated edges.

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"Although owning or selling a gin trap is not an offence, the use of gin traps has been outlawed in the UK since 1958, as well as the use of a legal spring trap that has been modified by having teeth cut into the jaws or fencing staples welded onto them.

"Despite this, some are still being illegally used to catch animals such as rabbits and foxes.

“Gin traps are indiscriminate. The victims can be wildlife, or family pets but whichever the animal, these traps cause a great deal of suffering and we are extremely concerned about their use.

“The RSPCA is opposed to the manufacture, sale and use of all snares and traps which cause suffering.

"Animals trapped like this will struggle when caught and may succeed in pulling the trap from its anchor only to die later from their injuries."