As they are archaic in definition and crude in composition, we encounter people who believe that snares are already banned in Scotland.

Why would anyone willingly subject an animal to possible mental and physical torment using a cruel and antiquated device in the modern day? I myself thought this before happening upon OneKind’s long-running campaign calling on the Scottish Government to usher in a ban on snares.

deer who had been killed by snare

Snares inflict suffering in a myriad of ways and are indiscriminate in their victimisation. Simply put: an inanimate object such as a snare cannot distinguish between a target and non-target animal. Shockingly, up to 72% of animals trapped in snares are that of a non-target species, such as deer, badgers, otters and, commonly, companion dogs and cats.

As follows is how snares cause prolonged and painful suffering to animals, and why no design modification can ever make the devices humane – they must be completely banned to protect Scotland’s animals.


Example of a wire snare with a stop.

Firstly, snares are wire or steel cables that resemble a noose and are designed to catch an animal by their neck.


A legal snare is designed with a stopper, which is supposed to refrain the loop from tightening when an animal ceases to thrash in resistance. However, since launching our SnareWatch website in 2011, we have received reports of such stops failing to operate properly.

Thus, an animal trapped in a snare can endure extensive and agonising asphyxiation.


For example, in our most recent SnareWatch Annual Report 2022: Case studies of snare use in the UK, we told of how a young badger was left hanging by his neck after being caught by an illegal snare.

Badger caught in snare.The cub was found in Dumfries and Galloway with the wire noose gripped tightly, and it was determined he had been suffering in this state for at least a day, possibly more.


Also in the 2022 report, we detailed the case of couple walking on farmland who came across a deer, caught by a snare around her neck. She was clearly extremely frightened, her panicking making the wire tighter as she thrust herself into the hedge in a desperate attempt to free herself. The couple backed away in fear they would frighten her more, and later returned to find the deer was dead.

And just this week, we received a report from a man who discovered his cocker spaniel with a snare around her neck and the stopper having failed, the dog narrowly escaping strangulation.

Injury and mutilation

As aforementioned, snares are intended to lasso around the animal’s neck, however they can also catch an animal by limb or abdomen. This can inflict brutal injuries, resulting in blood loss and organ damage - and it could be fatal.

Cat badly injured by snare

In May of this year, we received an upsetting report of a beloved cat, Harry, who suffered a severe snare injury to his abdomen.

Harry had been missing for 5 days and when he managed to return home - bloodied and in pain - his family rushed him to a vet, who concluded that the injury was likely the result of a snare trapping.

In fact, his injury was so severe that upon seeing the wounded Harry, his family member expressed at the time; “I thought he was nearly cut in half when I went to lift him”.

Thankfully, Harry has since made a fully recovery thanks to the care provided by his vet and loving family. Now, his family do not want another cat or family to go through the anguish they did.

Exposure to elements and predators

Under current Scottish regulation, snares must be checked every 24 hours. However, they may not be properly maintained or could be illegal which would result in an even longer period for the caught animal. Any duration is an inconceivably long time for a living being to be trapped, emotionally distressed and potentially painfully injured.

During this period of entrapment, the animal is exposed to the weather elements and at risk of being attacked by another animal.

Deprivation for animal and kin

Another way an animal trapped in a snare can suffer is by dehydration or starvation. They are unable to properly move and drink or feed as normal, whilst possibly expelling energy by thrashing to free themselves from the snare itself.

However, it is not just the animal trapped in the snare themselves who could be deprived of nutrients.

Leveret in the care of an animal rescue shelter.

In a poignant 2016 case, a brown hare mother was discovered dead in an illegal snare. Having given birth to a leveret before being trapped and killed, she was now unable to care for her baby (pictured). Tragically, the leveret was found frightened beside their mother’s dead body, and although they were brought to a vet, they sadly did not survive. A single snare took two lives.

This case emphasises the indiscriminate nature of snares, as they can capture young, lactating and pregnant animals alike.

And this is just one case that we know of, it is harrowing to think of the number of mother’s that have died due to a snare and their orphaned young left to fend for themselves or too, perish.

Mental trauma

We have covered the ways in which animals trapped in a snare can suffer physically, but what about the mental trauma?

Signs of panic and severe distress can be seen by what is known as a ‘doughnut’; describing the area of ground around where the animal has been caught shown signs of considerate disturbance. This is when the animal has tried to escape the snare’s tight grasps by frantically running or jumping in the circumference around it, for several hours or more.

There is also a disturbing condition which can occur in animals called ‘tonic immobility’, whereby they feel such extreme fear and stress that they enter a natural state of paralysis. This has been likened to hypnosis.

The psychological trauma for those who survive a snaring incident can be long-lasting and life changing. This can be seen from the 2020 case of Tala, a cat who was discovered days after she disappeared with a swollen paw, believed by a vet to be most certainly cause by a snare. After the ordeal, Tala remained fearful.

How can we stop this suffering?

1) Support the campaign to ban snares. Join OneKind’s email list to receive updates on the impending snaring ban announcement, what actions you can take and follow our social media channels for campaign content.

2) Please report any sighting or concerns of the use of snares, anywhere in the UK, to SnareWatch.