An Otter killed by a snare on a popular Skye footpath is the fifth to meet such a fate on the island in the past five years.

Now animal rights groups are calling on the Scottish Executive to strenuously enforce laws on the use of the traps.

Two-year-old Percy, as the latest victim was named by the otter sanctuary that tried to save him, was maimed by the trap near Broadford pier.

A member of the public found the injured animal and contacted the local countryside ranger.

The International Otter Survival Fund at Broadford took over the care of the animal but he died five days later. Percy was taken to the vets, where he was anaesthetised and the snare, which was a non-locking type, was removed and the neck wound treated.

Jeremy Usher-Smith, of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: “Snares have to be checked legally every 24-hours and that’s the absolute minimum. They should not be set in areas where there are protected species such as otters. They are totally indiscriminate. They probably kill more non-target animals than target animals.”

Grace Yoxon, director of the International Otter Survival Fund, said Percy had suffered horrendously from the injury before it died. She added: “I’ve been in touch with the local police wildlife officer who was very helpful and I’ll be meeting him to discuss the issue.

“If people are just setting these traps and not checking them then this is what’s going to happen. Otters are protected and these snares shouldn’t be set for otters. Snares are usually attached to a fence but the wire noose on this otter wasn’t attached to anything, so there’s no way of finding out who set the snare or if it was set legally.”

She said five otters in five years died this way and a sixth was seriously injured.

Ross Minett of Adovocates for Animals said: “We are concerned yet sadly not surprised to learn that yet another otter has been caught in a snare.

“Scotland is one of a minority of countries in Europe that still allows snares to be used. These barbaric devices, in all their forms, are indiscriminate and inherently cruel. Many non-target species, including protected species, other wildlife, livestock and domestic pets are caught and injured or killed in legal, free-running snares. Snared animals have been known to chew off their own legs in order to escape.

“Many, many thousands of snares are used all over Scotland. Yet because snares are generally used in the more remote areas it is hard if not impossible to properly monitor their use.

“Advocates for Animals firmly believes that the only way to stop the torture and death of animals by snares in Scotland is for their manufacture, possession and use to be completely banned.

“The Scottish Executive is overdue in issuing a consultation on ways in which the use of snares can be tightened up.

“We urge the executive to bring this consultation forward so that those who care about reducing unnecessary animal suffering can work to tighten up the regulations as much as possible to reduce the risk of any more otters being caught in snares in Scotland.”

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