A FOX has been put to sleep after he was discovered in an illegal trap in Aston Clinton.
The fox was discovered in a gin trap in Aston Clinton on October 26. He was still alive, but his back leg had been mutilated by the trap.
RSPCA animal collection officer (ACO) Andy Eddy was called out and found the animal amongst reeds in Wendover Canal, behind Wenwell Close. The chain attached to the trap, usually used to anchor them to the ground, had become tangled in the reeds.
It is thought that the fox had been there for at least a day and had dragged the trap along on his leg. However, the fox would not have been able to travel far, so the trap had probably been set nearby.
ACO Eddy removed the trap, but the leg was too badly damaged and the fox was put to sleep to prevent him from suffering further.
Gin traps are mechanical traps designed to catch an animal by its leg, using spring-operated jaws with teeth or a serrated edge as in this case. The use of gin traps has been illegal in the UK since 1958, but some are still being used to catch animals such as rabbits and foxes.
Domestic animals often fall foul of the traps, but it is illegal to cause any animal to suffer by using them.
The sale or possession of such traps is not illegal, but the RSPCA wants to make people aware that they can face prosecution by setting a gin trap.
RSPCA inspector Kirsty Hampton said: "People have to realise that by setting a gin trap they are breaking the law and could be causing animals like this fox to suffer a great deal of pain and distress.
"If you have a gin trap, please do not use it as you could be leaving yourself open to prosecution."
Anyone found guilty of setting a gin trap which causes unnecessary suffering to an animal faces a maximum 20,000 fine and/or six months in prison.