POLICE have admitted failings after the rotting body of a fox was left in a snare.

The National Anti-Snaring Campaign made a complaint after the dead animal was left on a fence line adjoining a footpath on a Somerset farm.

The group passed on information to the force about the incident at Midway Farm, Stoke St Michael, in December.

A further live fox was also discovered, but released.

A spokesman for the group said: "We informed the police and included a map, and PC Blight went to investigate.

"He later claimed he could find no snares, but spoke to landowner Roger Heal, of Midway Farm, Stoke St Michael, who admitted he had forgotten to remove the decomposing snared fox, and would do so.

"PC Blight then only reminded the landowner to check his snares every day in future."

NASC complained to Avon and Somerset Police that when the officer could not find the snared fox, the group should have been contacted for further information.

And it criticised the police as the DEFRA code of practice that prohibits snares being set on a fence line was not relayed to the landowner and claims the PC's actions made it impossible to launch a prosecution case.

NASC has since received an apology from Avon and Somerset Police, which it described as of "little comfort to the foxes that will have suffered terribly in these snares".

The apology read: "I have investigated the fact that PC Blight failed to act in line with the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1984 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and DEFRA Codes of practice.

"I have examined the crime report 5217289035 which records his actions and spoken to him about the incident.

"He was unaware of the DEFRA Codes of practice and did not discuss these with the landowner.

"I have asked him to re-attend and do so.

"Unfortunately, due to his actions at the time we have no evidence to proceed with a prosecution under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

"I have arranged for him to receive further training on these to Acts to avoid this happening again.

"Along with the rest of the team so that the knowledge gap in this area is filled.

"In relation, to PC Blight, not contacting you to obtain further information at the time,  I have spoken to PC Blight and he admits he did not do this and this was a failing on his part for which he apologises.”

Simon Wild, a spokesman for the National Anti Snaring Campaign said:  “This case shows the law and codes of practice do not protect wildlife from extreme suffering and only a complete ban on snaring will work.”

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said: "We can confirm we received and investigated a complaint that was made regarding the response of two officers in relation to a report of the snaring of a fox on farmland in Stoke St Michael, Somerset, in December.

"As a result, both officers were given appropriate management advice and a local resolution action plan was implemented, following agreement with the complainant."

*The Gazette has seen a photo of the rotting fox but decided not to publish it.