THE Beechgrove Garden was at the centre of an animal cruelty row last night after viewers were taught how to kill moles with metal snares.
Animal rights campaigners were furious after the TV presenters advised gardeners to use a scissors trap, which is supposed to kill the mole quickly but often squeezes it slowly to death.
The normally-tame BBC Scotland gardening experts were accused of “coldblooded killing” as they gave tips on how to prevent lawns being ruined by moles.
The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals led the attack on Carole Baxter and her fellow presenters Jim McColl and Lesley Watson.
A spokeswoman said: “We are extremely concerned by the advice given on the Beechgrove Garden. These scissor traps are legal, but they have to be set by a professional.
“If they are set incorrectly they are unlikely to work and the mole could be injured rather than killed and the gardener could be charged with animal cruelty. All pest control should be handled by a professional because all species of life should be treated humanely. There is an issue of creating suffering here.
“The Beechgrove Garden is a very well respected programme, but we are extremely concerned about this particular item.”
On Thursday night’s show, Carole Baxter was seen advising a woman from Ochiltree in Ayrshire on how to transform a barren field into a bowling green lawn and overcome her molehill problem.
She demonstrated a number of gadgets, including sonic devices, which deter moles, and also showed a humane trap. But she said the most effective method was killing the moles by snaring them in a scissors trap.
The metal contraption is laid on a mole run and is triggered when the creature taps a disc with its with its snout, causing two sets of metal calipers to snap shut around its body. Animal experts branded it a “cruel and barbaric” device which is similar to the illegal gin traps once used to trap rabbits and foxes.
Once Baxter had finished her demon- stration, she passed over to fellow presenter, Lesley Watson, who joked: “I think if I were a mole I would be packing my bags and leaving that garden fast.”
Ross Minett, director of Advocates for Animals, said: “These traps are absolutely barbaric and the producers of Beechgrove Garden should be more responsible.
“We would discourage anyone from using these devices and would question whether moles actually need to be controlled.”
A spokeswoman for the BBC said: “The item featured a variety of ways to deal with the problem of moles in gardens. Users of traps which are generally available were advised to use due care.
“However, the production team at Tern Television would be happy to talk directly to the SSPCA and Advocates for Animals about their concerns.”
Despite the row the factsheet on mole catchers was still on the Beechgrove Garden website last night.