Snares are cruel, primitive and indiscriminate traps that are widely used across Scotland mostly to protect gamebirds from fox predation to benefit the shooting industry. A snare is a simple anchored noose which is positioned on an animal track where an animal will walk into it and become trapped by the neck, abdomen or leg.
In 2011, we launched our website SnareWatch, a snare information-sharing and reporting facility and we have been shocked by the number of reports highlighting the scale of snaring in the UK. While snares might be set for foxes, we’ve had lots of reports of other wild animals and also family pets, which have been injured and even killed by these traps.
OneKind has long-campaigned for a complete ban on the sale, use and manufacture of snares in Scotland and we will keep campaigning until we get one. Here’s five reasons why we think snares should be banned:
1. Snares are indiscriminate
Snares may be set to catch foxes, but they will also catch, maim and kill a wide range of non-target species. Our reports have shown animals including badgers, deer, birds, hares, otters, as well as family pets like cats and dogs being caught and even killed in snares. Just read this tragic story of a Cocker Spaniel called Murphy who was killed in a snare last year.
2. Snares are non-selective
Snares do not discriminate between the individuals within a target species so often they will capture foxes and other animals that are lactating, pregnant or juveniles. This brown hare leveret was born while her mother was trapped in an illegal (untagged) snare in Ayrshire. The mother had already died when the hare was rescued. The baby was taken to Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue, however despite expert care, she also died.
3. Snares are incompatible with conservation
The UK populations of three main target species for which snares are generally used – red fox, rabbit and brown hare – are all in decline. In addition, the widespread trapping of native wildlife damages Scotland’s reputation as an ecotourism destination. Many conservation organisations including Scottish Natural Heritage who manage land in Scotland do not use snares.
4. Snares are cruel
Snares have long been known to inflict extreme physical and mental suffering on the animals they capture with many sentient wild and domesticated animals subjected to prolonged suffering and often a slow agonising death. On sites where animals have been caught in a snare there are often signs of disturbance to the to the surrounding ground and vegetation known as a “doughnut” where animals will try to run or scramble their way out of the snare. This can often lead to the snare moving (like in the image above) so instead of holding the animal round its neck, it can end up cutting the animal’s abdomen. Other animals will attempt to gnaw through the wire which causes painful damage to the teeth and jaw.
5. Regulation has failed
The law in Scotland is stronger than the rest of the UK, yet despite this, it still offers Scotland’s animals very little in the way of protection. In the UK, snares must be free-running to reduce the risk of snare wire causing flesh wounds and snares must be checked every 24 hours. In Scotland, there are additional requirements, such as ensuring snares are fitted with a ‘stop’ to prevent animals from being strangled. Operators must also complete a training course by a rural college or shooting industry body to receive an ID number from Police Scotland, which must be present on all their snares. This requirement can aid enforcement but does nothing to protect animals from the inherent welfare problems of snares.
Here’s how you can help the campaign.
- Report any information about snares to OneKind – Please take photos and report them to our SnareWatch website or to our SnareWatch Facebook page. If you have any other experiences or stories, then you can contact OneKind’s Campaigner directly on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Write to your MSP and/or the First Minister and ask them to support a ban on the use, sale and manufacture of snares in Scotland
- Join OneKind with a monthly donation– we’re a small charity so every new member we have means we can expand our work on issues like this one. Seriously, every member really helps us. Thank you!