ANIMAL welfare officers are appealing for information after the discovery of a dead fox stripped of its fur.

The savage attack, which also saw the animal’s left hind paw and tail cut off, meant RSPCA inspectors could not even tell which gender the fox was.

The skinned fox was discovered by a dog walker in a field off Greenberfield Lane, in Barnoldswick.

The RSPCA has issued pictures of the dead fox, but they are too graphic to print in the Lancashire Telegraph.

Natalie Taylor, an RSPCA inspector, said the fur may have been taken in order to train dogs to hunt foxes.

She said: “We were alerted to the dead fox by a man walking his dog on December 30.

“I went up to Greenberfield Lane the following day and found the skinned animal next to the houses in the corner.

“It had all of its fur removed.

“There wasn’t a hair left, including the tail.

“This was carried out by someone who knows what they are doing.

“It had one paw missing, and it is very hard to determine the actual cause of death.

“I just hope it was dead before it was skinned because the pain would be unbearable.”

The RSPCA has retained the fox’s body as evidence, and hopes people will come forward with information about who carried out the attack.

Ms Taylor, who said the incident in Barnoldswick was an isolated one, added: “We have had reports of groups of young lads hanging around there with dogs. but whoever did this is highly skilled.

“We can’t tell if the fox is male or female, but we think it was a young adult.

“It’s very gruesome, and is certainly the most gory and horrific incident I have seen in my time as an RSPCA inspector.”

Anyone with any information is urged to get in touch with the RSPCA on 03001234999.