A volunteer from an animal welfare organization was horrified to find a severed fox paw in an illegal gin trap.
Ruth Thomas, 37, made the grim discovery while searching for an injured fox in a suburban garden.
She found the paw in Forest Hill, south east London while working for The Wildlife Lodge.
First Ruth discovered the “barbarian trap” hidden in a bush – but on closer inspection she made the horrible discovery.
She said: “We were asked to set up a safe trap to find an injured fox in a lady’s garden.
“I discovered a paw in a brutal, rusty trap – there was no longer any blood on it.
“That means the poor fox walked around for days until the paw ‘died’ and fell off with the trap.
“It was a dangerous device, it could have killed a dog or even a child.”
The volunteer said she was shocked by the discovery and claimed she had “never seen anything like it at work”.
Ruth, from Downham, south east London, also works as an education officer for a leading dog charity.
She said: “The gardener has fed a fox every day for years – she hasn’t seen him since.
“God knows how many times that trap has been used; it would have led to such a nasty infection. This was an arbitrary crime, whoever did it deserves to be incarcerated.
“I reported the paw and the trap to the Wildlife Crime Prevention Unit.
“Wild animals are not seen as an important issue, but who else is going to stand up for the animals.”
By Ben Gelblum and Daniel Hammond