The RSPCA has renewed its demand for wire snares to be outlawed after a badger was found trapped and so badly injured that it had to be put out of its suffering by a vet. One of the charity’s animal collection officers was called to Polmorla, near Wadebridge, North Cornwall, where a farmer said he had set the trap to protect his lambs from foxes.

An RSPCA spokesman said: “The trap was set legally but the incident with this badger has highlighted how cruel and indiscriminate such snares can be.”

Wire loop snares have been made illegal in many European countries but they are still legal in Britain.

RSPCA collection officer Claire Ford was called to Polmorla by a farmer who informed her that he set the snare to catch foxes. Miss Ford said: “The badger was obviously in distress and may have been there some time. It was difficult to release it as the snare was wrapped around a fence and I had to use wire-cutters to cut it free.

“Sadly the badger had to be put to sleep by a vet as the snare had cut right through a chest muscle, exposing the chest cavity. The animal would not have survived.”

The RSPCA spokesman said: “We want snares banned. In addition to the suffering caused to the foxes for which the snares are set, the RSPCA frequently gets reports of cats, dogs, badgers and deer being caught and injured in snares.

“Almost 70 per cent of animals caught in snares are not the intended targets. Even with good practice, that number is unlikely to drop below 40 per cent.”