Less than one-third of current snare users have attended the training they require if they intend to continue setting snares in Scotland after 1 April 2013.
Answers to written questions lodged in the Scottish Parliament by Deputy Convener of the Cross Party Group on Animal Welfare, Claudia Beamish MSP, show that to date, 1,376 snare users have attended the snaring training courses, as set out in the Snares (Training) (Scotland) (No.2) Order 2012.
Responding to the questions, the Minister for Environment Paul Wheelhouse MSP said:
“Representatives of the shooting industry estimate that there are approximately 5,000 snaring operators in Scotland. On the basis that 1,376 snare users have already attended the snaring course, this leaves approximately 3,624 that have still to attend the snaring training course. It is not compulsory for snaring operators to attend the course before the 1st April 2013 unless they are required to set a snare from this date
“It is the responsibility of an individual snaring operator to attend a snaring training course and produce a valid training certificate when requested to do so. Only when they have completed a training course can they obtain an identification number from the chief constable of their local police force. It will be an offence from 1st April 2013 to set a snare without displaying a tag on the snare which contains the snaring operator’s identification number.
Industry organisations have been running training courses since 2010. Given that fewer than 1,400 operators have been trained in more than two years, OneKind sees it as unlikely that more than twice that number can be trained in the next two months.
Claudia Beamish MSP commented:
“The issue of snaring was thoroughly debated during the passage of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011, and the Scottish Parliament agreed that reform was necessary. I am concerned so many practitioners do not appear ready for the implementation of the new legislation and that there is not now time for the shortfall to be made up.”
The Minister has pointed out that the training is only required by people who intend to continue setting snares after 1 April, when new legislation comes into force. OneKind would be delighted if this meant that over two-thirds of current practitioners intended to give up using these cruel and indiscriminate traps from that date. However, if that is not the case, we hope there will be immediate enforcement action. After a three-year lead in period, this is emphatically not an issue for a ‘light touch’ approach.
Snares cause unacceptable suffering to thousands of animals every year and if the legislation is to mitigate that suffering, it must be observed and implemented.
For more information on snaring visit www.snarewatch.org