OneKind believes snare users in Scotland should report their captures to the Scottish Government.
OneKind is calling for a reporting requirement to be added to a forthcoming Order - the Snares Identification Number and Tagging (Scotland) Order 2012 – to be laid before the Scottish Parliament this summer. The Order already provides that records must be kept of snaring activities, including the location of snares and a capture report, and these could simply be passed to the Scottish Government.
While OneKind continues to fight for the cruel and indiscriminate snaring of animals to be banned throughout the UK, a properly observed and enforced reporting requirement would bring much-needed transparency about the use of these traps. A full picture of the extent of snare use, the number of target and non-target animals caught, and their fate will be essential when the Scottish legislation on snaring is reviewed in 2016.
Other developments over snare use include last week’s approval by the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee of the Scottish Parliament of four shooting and gamekeeping organisations, and four Scottish colleges, to deliver training courses. Snare users who pass the courses will be issued with an identification number which must be attached to all snares in use in Scotland from January 2013.
OneKind has concerns about the adequacy of the training courses. Some appear to be delivered more with an eye to avoiding prosecution and interference by so-called “antis”, rather than proactively achieving better welfare.
The two-hour course, without any veterinary input, leaves people to judge for themselves on issues such as whether to kill or release an injured non-target animal, or call a vet. On one recent course, participants were told that a badger caught round the front leg should be released, even if bleeding, on the basis that “it will heal itself”. OneKind believes that anyone following this advice would risk breaching the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. Participants have also been advised that feral cats are legitimate targets of snares.
South of the border, DEFRA’s long-awaited report into the extent of use and humaneness of snares in England and Wales shied away from addressing animal welfare properly. The standards against which animal welfare was measured did not apply to the species captured in snares in the UK; and clear signs of suffering, such as the fact that animals in field trials had died of strangulation, were not assessed as signs of poor welfare.
The report did however reinforce concern about the high rate of non-target captures in snares, even under so-called “best practice” conditions. 60% of users surveyed for the report had caught non-target animals in fox snares; and in field trials, 68% of 44 capture events involved non-target species.
New data from the Scottish SPCA for snaring incidents between 31 March 2011 and 25 April 2012 showed a 70% rate of non-target capture, including badgers, cats, deer, dogs, birds, hares, otters pine marten and rabbits. The same pattern emerges in reports to the OneKind SnareWatch website, where badgers and cats are commonly reported victims.
The UK government will consult shortly on its proposals for the future of snaring in England, based on the report, and OneKind will press for the response to be an outright ban.