People finding snares which have been set to catch animals in the countryside around Dumbarton and the Vale are being urged to report them to the SPCA.

Anyone finding a snare should leave it untouched and contact a confidential snare helpline, says the animal welfare charity.

The advice comes following reports from different parts of the country of a number of animals caught in snares and suffering a horrific end to their lives.

An undercover SPCA inspector said: “We have been alerted to multiple animals caught in snares who have been caused an immense amount of suffering, leading to their death.

“Snaring is legal subject to very stringent conditions.

"We see a lot of cases of illegal snaring, or legal snares being used illegally.

"The use of snares is very technical and time-consuming and unless a person is willing to dedicate the time and effort, it’s highly likely an animal’s welfare will be compromised.

The inspector added: "If a snare is set, it’s a legal requirement to check the snare within 24 hours to avoid unnecessary suffering.

“Snares are non-selective and can just as easily harm a domestic animal as well as non-targeted wildlife.

"We’ve responded to calls from members of the public who suspect their cat or dog has been injured by a snare."

One incident recently involved a badger who was still alive when the SPCA arrived but had to be put to sleep to end his suffering.

The inspector added: "The badger was clearly very badly injured and distressed and was suffering to the highest degree.

“The suffering an animal endures in illegal snares is horrific and while snaring continues, suffering will continue."

The Scottish SPCA, which has an animal rehoming centre at Milton, is in favour of an outright ban on the use of snares in Scotland.

Anyone finding a snare should call the confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999 if they believe it has been set illegally.