Earlier this year, a couple from Drumnadrochit, a village of the western shore of Loch Ness, submitted a snaring incident through our snare reporting website, SnareWatch.org. While watching their wildlife camera footage, they noticed a badger with a snare around his neck had visited their garden. The concerned couple contacted Iona at Munlochy Animal Aid, who brought a trap to catch the snared badger the following night and bring him to the local veterinary practice for treatment. Sadly, the badger had to be put down because of the severity of his injuries. The couple, Iona and the veterinarian surgeon were all shocked at the severity of the badger’s wound and the level of suffering the badger had endured.
In this blog, we highlight the cruelty of snares, and speak to the couple who discovered the badger and Iona at Munlochy Animal Aid who transported the badger to the local veterinary practice.
Snaring: archaic and indiscriminate suffering
Snares are archaic and cruel devices that are used throughout the UK to catch foxes, hares or rabbits around the neck and restrain them until the operator comes to kill them. Snares are used by gamekeepers and some farmers who view the target species as ‘pests’. Snares are indiscriminate, though, and catch a variety of non-target species, such as badgers. In fact, 70% of all animals caught in snares are non-target species.
Snares inflict considerable mental and physical suffering on the animals that become trapped in them. An animal caught in a snare will naturally panic and can spend hours struggling to get free, as evidenced by ‘doughnuts’ of trampled vegetation or churned earth around used snare sites. As well as fear and stress, the animal may suffer from hunger, thirst and exposure during this time, and is vulnerable to attacks by other animals. Sadly, in this case, is it suspected that the badger had a snare around his neck a few weeks.
We spoke to the local couple who discovered the snared badger about their distressing experience and where they stand on the use of snares in Scotland.
How did you feel when you saw the footage of the snared badger in your garden?
“We felt very angry, upset and concerned for the poor badger and knew we had to do something to try and get the snare removed as quickly as possible in the hope that he would be able to be returned as soon as possible. At the time we did not know if the badger was a lactating female with cubs so were worried that they may also suffer but it was a male so we did not have to worry about any cubs starving. We are now worried that other badgers and other animals may also be caught in snares and are checking the cameras every morning.”
Were you aware that badgers were targeted in your area?
“We did not know that snares were being used in the area but not surprised that they are and not sure that the badger was deliberately targeted or was just caught due to the indiscriminate nature of snares.”
What is your interest in badgers? Have you always appreciated them?
“We were both members of the Staffordshire badger group when we lived there in the 1980’s. In the 2000’s we had badgers coming into our garden most nights when we moved back to Staffordshire. We now live in a secluded rural property which again has badgers visiting the garden most nights for food which we put out for them. It is so sad that they along with other animals are so persecuted by certain members of the human race.”
Do you support a ban on the use, sale and manufacture of snares in Scotland?
“We are disgusted that anybody can set a snare that can cause such suffering to any animal that may get caught in it. The use of, sale and manufacture of snares should be banned here in Scotland and the rest of the UK as they are in many other countries.”
Iona of Munlochy Animal Aid also expressed her distress upon discovering the snared badger and her strong support for ban on snares in Scotland.
“When I got the call asking for help catching an injured badger I really didn’t expect to find a creature in such a horrific state. The snare had been on his neck for a couple of weeks and was completely embedded. Both my husband and myself felt physically sick knowing how much the poor animal had suffered. We got him to the vets immediately and when they set to work after the anaesthetic kicked in they removed the snare we all saw and smelt the wound. Absolutely ghastly and very sadly beyond help.”
“The misery and pain that badger suffered was hellish and I can’t stress how strongly we feel about making snares illegal. This is a barbaric outdated cruel method of dealing with ‘pest’ control. No animal should die this way.”
The future of snares in Scotland
Snaring legislation is being reviewing by the Scottish Government this year as per the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011. We will be urging the Government to ban the manufacture, sale and use of snares in Scotland. Please join us and take a stand for Scotland’s animals by writing to your MSP here. An email template can be found here. We would urge as many people as possible to write an individual email, however, in order to have the most impact.
What should I do if I find a snare?
We urge anyone out walking in the countryside to take photos and report any snares or snaring incidents through SnareWatch.org.
If you find a live animal in a snare call the SSPCA in Scotland (03000 999 999) and RSPCA in England and Wales (0300 1234 999).
If you find a snare that you suspect is illegal or a dead animal in a snare please report it to the police (dial 101, asking for the local Wildlife Crime Officer if you have one) and make sure you get an incident number from the call centre operative.