POLICE fear a child or animal could have been injured by a gin trap left in a nature reserve.
The metal animal trap, which was ready to catch and had started to rust, was found at the council-owned Greenfield Nature Reserve, off Whitewalls Drive in Colne.
Police are investigating and a spokesman said they were liaising with the RSPCA.
The trap is one of a string of animal cruelty incidents in the area during recent weeks.
On Sunday, a farmer in Colne was left distraught after his two-week-old twin lambs were mauled to death, in what he believed was a deliberate attack.
And Waterside Coun Dorothy Lord said she was concerned about the increase in such incidents. She said: “A person who lives near the nature reserve contacted me to say they found a trap. I don’t understand why people do that sort of thing.
“The nature reserve is very popular with dog walkers and families. Not only could the trap have hurt an animal, but it could have done serious damage to a pet or a child walking through.
“A number of incidents involving cruelty to wildlife have been brought to my attention in the past month and I am growing increasingly worried about the it.”
PC Mark Dibb said: “The trap looked like it had been there for some time and it is concerning that it could have caused injury to a pet or a child.
“I’d reassure people that patrols have been stepped up in the area and would urge local residents to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to police.”
Police have warned people they could be prosecuted under the Wildlife Act.
Philip Mousdale, deputy chief executive of Pendle Council, said: “It certainly is disgraceful that someone has endangered wildlife, pets and even children by placing this trap in a well-used local nature reserve.
“If anyone has information about who has done this, I urge them to contact police.”