Concerns have been raised by wildlife experts over the discovery of “barbaric” snares in Tayside woodlands.
A snare was discovered by a member of the public in Blairgowrie, sparking fears that someone is deliberately targeting animals, including beavers.
The member of the public — who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal — discovered the trap last week and has slammed those responsible, saying it was “absolutely vile”.
The person said: “I go on a lot of nature walks and I was out exploring the area when I came across two of the traps.
“I called the police and they came and took them away.
“It makes me very angry. It’s animal cruelty and it’s absolutely vile.
“They aren’t protected the way otters are but it doesn’t matter — a trap like that is disgusting.
“It could quite easily harm any large animal like a badger but it could also be someone’s dog.”
The person said they believed the snare they found was a self-locking device.
A Scottish SPCA spokeswoman explained that snares are not illegal and it is only under acute circumstances that they will be considered as such.
If they are considered illegal — as this one was — the police will remove the object.
The Scottish animal welfare charity would only step in if a live animal was caught in one. Snares are one of the simplest traps and are very effective.
One of the main ways they are made is by constructing a noose out of a piece of wire.
It works by trapping an animal around the neck or the body and it tightens as they tug against it. Paul Ramsay, co-chair of the Scottish Wild Beaver Group, described the traps as “barbaric” and “cruel”, adding: “Members of our group are vigilant and will bring anything such as this to the attention of authorities if found.
“Just imagine yourself walking into a snare, trying to free yourself and choking as a result. That’s what happens to an animal when caught in one.
“It causes a lot of suffering. It’s barbaric and cruel.
“It’s a big concern to hear about this. Even if no animal was harmed, it means there is someone out there setting illegal traps.”
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, free-running snares are legal throughout the UK, while self-locking snares are illegal.
A free-running snare is supposed to slacken when the animal stops struggling, while a self-locking snare can only become tighter.
Police Scotland was approached for comment but had not responded at the time of going to press.