Furious animal welfare chiefs have hit out at the Crown Office after it dropped the case against a gamekeeper accused of killing animals with cruel snare traps.
The gamekeeper was due to stand trial after “harrowing” footage was supplied showing a fox trapped in a snare which had died of dehydration.
A video and a catalogue of “extremely graphic” images were obtained by animal welfare charity OneKind during a visit to Glenogil Estate on September 26 2014.
The gamekeeper was facing charges of failing to inspect a snare at the which killed a deer in August of that year and failing to keep a record of finding a deer in a snare.
It was also alleged that he failed to check another snare for more than 24 hours, during which time a fox became trapped and died of dehydration.
The charges were brought under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which prohibits certain methods of killing or taking wild animals and requires inspection of snares every 24 hours, with removal of any live or dead animals that are found.
A field research officer from the charity visited the estate on that date to gather evidence of legal snare use.
During his visit he found two foxes caught in snares, both of which had been trapped around their abdomen.
The charity said one of the foxes was dead and one was still alive, clearly distressed with a large wound where the snare had cut into its flesh.
The Scottish SPCA was called out to the estate where the fox had to be humanely dispatched, due to the severity of its injuries.
Libby Anderson of OneKind said: “We are appalled that this case is not to proceed given the eyewitness evidence, the horrific video footage and the detailed follow-up investigation carried out by the Scottish SPCA.
“Had our research officer not been on the estate on that particular day, who knows how much longer the live fox would have continued to suffer in a manner which is totally unacceptable by any reasonable standard.”
No charges were brought against the gamekeeper in relation to the fox which had to be humanely dispatched.
It is understood there was insufficient evidence to show the fox had been trapped for longer than 24 hours.
Libby Anderson added: “It is intolerable that the suffering this fox endured should be considered legally acceptable.
“The video footage is utterly harrowing and illustrates an animal which is clearly suffering both physically and mentally.
“OneKind has long called for an outright ban on all snares and sadly we feel these calls have been justified by this case.”