CAMPAIGNERS have called for a halt to a “sick” internet trade in animal snares. The wire devices are used mainly to trap animals on hunting estates. But domestic pets and protected species, such as badgers and otters, are regularly caught too.

Animal welfare groups warn that any creature snared faces a slow and painful death. In one horrific incident in Scotland, a female badger was almost cut in two by a snare – but was still alive when found by a doctor. When the doctor touched the animal, its heart fell out, still beating, before it died.

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Snares are being traded for less than £1 on internet auction site eBay. One campaigner said last night: “These devices are barbaric and should be consigned to the history books. The fact they are now on eBay is even more worrying.”

Investigators have bought snares from one male seller based in Dumbarton and handed them to police. But officers are powerless to act under current laws.

Yesterday, eBay had packs of 10 snares, simply thin wire nooses, on sale for £5

Louise Robertson, of The League Against Cruel Sports, said: “It beggars belief that these are for sale on a popular website where they could fall into the hands of anyone, including children.

“It highlights the desperate need in Scotland for tighter regulations. We feel the sale and use of snares should be banned – full stop.

“Laws passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2004 give ministers powers to ban snares such as those bought on eBay. But these powers have not been used.”

Doreen Graham, of the SSPCA, said: “Selling these on eBay is totally inappropriate.”

Police wildlife officer Joe Connolly said trading in the snares was not an offence but added: “They are poorly made and could soon become self-locking and, therefore, illegal.”

An Executive spokesman said: “We are aware of feelings over the issue. We will be consulting on snaring in due course.”

An eBay spokesman said: “Any item that does not breach UK law or our policies can be listed on the site.”

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