(image credit: Andrew Parkinson)
Leading animal protection charity OneKind has welcomed a decision by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) which will effectively end snaring of mountain hares.
The decision was made known as part of a wider review of the impact of snaring regulations introduced under the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011.
Mountain hares were once routinely snared on estates across the Scottish Highlands, but this week, SNH has finally confirmed that it is no longer issuing licences. The findings of the review stated:
“Concerns have been raised with SNH over the welfare impacts of snaring hares to the effect that it is difficult to advise on a method of snaring that does not cause unnecessary suffering – that they cannot be used effectively as a killing trap because animals take too long to die and are not effective as a restraining means because there is too high a risk of killing or injury. The lack of any apparent means or guidance to avoid this means that SNH will not be minded to issue licences unless the contrary can be evidenced.”
OneKind Director Harry Huyton said:
“This decision is hugely significant because it effectively sets an ‘unnecessary suffering’ test for wildlife management practices. We would like to see this approach applied to snaring other wild animals as well as other controversial and common traps that are used throughout Scotland. In terms of animal welfare, there is no difference between a mountain hare suffering in a snare and a fox suffering in a snare.”
Mountain hare snaring was once a routine part of grouse moor management for many estates, such as Cawdor, which has been the subject of much controversy for its mountain hare snaring practices. A study commissioned by SNH estimated that over 5,000 mountain hares were trapped in snares and killed in in Scotland in one year during 2006/7. Subsequent research by OneKind showed that the vast majority of this was taking place illegally, with estates setting snares without licences. This, and a high-profile snaring case on Lochindorb estate, led to a tougher approach by SNH, and the number of licences issued for mountain hare snaring has been in decline since then. Since 2012, SNH has issued only four licences that might have allowed snaring, and in 2016 two licences issued for mountain hare control were amended to remove snaring as a permitted method.
Harry Huyton added: “This week’s report appears to be the final nail in the coffin for this cruel practice, as far as mountain hares are concerned – but just as important is the precedent it sets.”
OneKind has campaigned for many years to expose the cruelty of snare use in Scotland, developing considerable knowledge and expertise regarding the welfare of wild animals and impact of these primitive, indiscriminate traps over this time. OneKind believes that a ban on the manufacture, sale, possession and use of all snares is the only way to end the unnecessary suffering caused by these traps.
Notes to editor
OneKind exposes, challenges and ends cruelty to Scotland’s animals through campaigns, research & education.
The SNH Review of Snaring for Scottish Government can be found at www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/03/8720
For further information or photographs please contact Sarah Moyes on 0131 661 9734 or firstname.lastname@example.org