The use of illegal gin traps on three occasions in North Devon has led to a police investigation.

In the latest incident a fox was found in one of the leg traps, which were banned 50 years ago.

Many gin traps remain as museum pieces in public houses and homes and the fear is that some people may not know that they are illegal.

A vixen was trapped near Bamstaple and it was so badly injured that the RSPCA officer put it out of its misery. It had tried to chew its leg off. Two other traps have been found in the area over the past two weeks.

There are (unfounded – editor) fears that a ban on foxhunting will lead to less humane methods of control being utilitised, such as poisoning – as has happened with birds of prey, which are protected – gassing, and trapping using illegal traps.

Devon and Cornwall police have said they will prosecute anyone found using an illegal trap. the maximum penalty for such an offence is six months imprisonment.

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