THE horrific death of a badger in a self-locking snare today brought a warning from sickened RSPCA officers: “We will catch you and prosecute.”

They spoke out after one of its inspectors had to put down the creature after it was discovered in one of the traps on a farm off East Chevin Road, Otley, near Leeds.

Skin and fur had been ripped from around its throat while it struggled to free itself.

Animal collection officer Keira Driscoll gave the distressed creature – in severe pain and barely breathing – a lethal injection.

She said: “The badger became caught in the snare but then managed to tear it off whatever fence it had been attached to. It dragged itself to the barn with the tight loop still fastened around its neck. In trying to free itself the skin around its throat had been stripped away. The badger must have been in complete agony. The circle of the snare was probably not much more than four or five inches in diameter.”

The self-locking snares are usually set to catch “pest” creatures such as foxes or rabbits, but often cause severe injury or lead to the death of other animals such as badgers – which are a protected species – or domestic pets like dogs and cats.

The devices were banned under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, because their crushing action causes mutilation.

But many people still use snares, and do not check regularly check them to ensure an animal is not suffering a painful, lingering death.

The RSPCA is now calling on anyone with any information on the death of the badger to call its confidential hotline on 08705 555999.