As a new Order to regulate the use of snares in Scotland comes before the Scottish Parliament Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment (RACCE) Committee we have received another grim report of animal suffering in an apparently legal snare.
The latest report on the OneKind SnareWatch website (warning, distressing image) describes the scene that a member of the public came across and photographed in June this year, while walking north of Kirriemuir in Angus:
“Snares were set on an animal track along a clearing between thick trees and a fence. A young fox had been killed then flung into a tree at the start of the clearing. One of the snare points had a large area of disturbance round it where the fox had obviously struggled for a long time before its death.”
Last year, MSPs had the opportunity to ban snares during the passage of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act. Regrettably they opted instead for a system of user training and identification tagging for snares.
Theoretically it may seem reasonable to provide that people setting snares must be trained in their use, and to provide for user identification. But realistically, these measures are never going to end the suffering caused by these cruel and indiscriminate traps. A two-hour training course with no independent veterinary input is by no means adequate to improve snaring practice and this latest report shows how little has changed.
Participants on a recent SGA training course were advised that:
- if they set their snares properly, the chances of an animal being injured were “slim”, even though it was acknowledged that both foxes and badgers would dig vigorously and thrash about in their efforts to escape;
- it was acceptable to release a badger (a non-target species) if caught in a snare, even if the animal was bleeding, as it would “heal itself”;
- despite advice from civil servants about informing the police about the deaths of hares accidentally snared in the close season, this was not necessary;
- feral cats were legitimate targets of snares, even though the tagging legislation only provides for snares to be used for brown hares, rabbits and foxes;
- if they caught a domestic cat they should take it to the Scottish SPCA and let them look after it, as this would cost the Scottish SPCA money, keep them busy and stop them hunting for gamekeepers’ snares.
The Snares (Identification Numbers and Tags) (Scotland) Order 2012 (SSI 2012/282) was laid before the Parliament on 24 October 2012 and is due to come into force on 22 November 2012. As most practitioners are now said to be trained, the new Order will enable them to apply for the identification numbers for their snares as of next month.
On 12 September 2012, the RACCE Committee agreed to close a petition lodged by the League Against Cruel Sports, OneKind and others, calling for a ban on the use of snares. The Committee has, however, written to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead MSP, about the process for review of the new legislation, scheduled for 2016.
OneKind hopes that the Cabinet Secretary and the recently appointed Minister for the Environment, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, will be prepared to bring the review forward in light of the continued suffering of so many of Scotland’s wild and domestic animals in snares. An outright ban on snaring is the only way to stop this horrific animal suffering.