Three more foxes have apparently been shot and killed, then dumped on the side of a public footpath.

Last week, three foxes were found dead by members of the public volunteering at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's Hagbourne Copse nature reserve on the edge of Swindon

The foxes had all, according to the Trust, been shot and were found on the side of an obvious footpath within the popular nature reserve near Freshbrook.

Warning: This story contains an image some readers may find distressing

The Trust suspects that the foxes had been killed and transported to a place of high visibility in the nature reserve in order to cause distress to members of the public deliberately.

This follows recent news that foxes had been shot dead and dumped at the GAP community garden in Swindon earlier in the month.

Wiltshire Police have confirmed that they are investigating the two separate findings at the GAP community gardens in Park South.

A spokesperson for the force said: "We have received reports of foxes being found deceased in Carstairs Avenue, Swindon.

“We are still in the early stages of our investigation.

“Anyone with information is asked to contact us on 101 quoting reference 54230126396.”

Swindon Advertiser: Three foxes were found shot and killed on side of a busy Swindon footpathThree foxes were found shot and killed on side of a busy Swindon footpath (Image: Wiltshire Wildlife Trust)

However, while fox hunting is illegal in the UK, shooting a fox - providing it isn't done in an urban area and doesn't cause 'undue suffering' to the animal - is permitted. 

For this reason, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust has not reported the finding of the three killed foxes to Wiltshire Police because - although it believes they have been placed where they were found to alarm people - there is no evidence they were killed inhumanely. 

A spokesperson for the Trust said: "Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is strongly opposed to illegal fox hunting methods; killing foxes inhumanely would be a crime under animal welfare legislation.

"According to this legislation, the use of firearms is not permitted in urban areas."

South Swindon Parish Council's services manager, Shaun Wright, found two foxes that appeared to have been shot dumped in The GAP on November 27.

He described the find as "a bit distressing". 

Shaun added: "I came across them a couple of mornings ago. They had been dumped around the signs inside the entrance to the GAP by the green open space that they’re turning into a community garden.

"Somebody over there is dispatching them and thinking it's okay."