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Snare found at Hilborough Estate

BREAKING: Wales one step closer to ban on snare use

The Welsh Senedd just announced it is carrying forwards a plan to prohibit the use of snares.

On 27 January, the Welsh Senedd’s Economic, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee published its Stage 1 Report on its upcoming Agricultural Bill. The 116-page document covers many subjects related to the future of agricultural legislation in the nation. But starting on page 91 is a section titled “Snares”. And page 100 contains a sentence that gives hope for wildlife across Wales:

“A clear majority of the Committee support the provisions of Part 5 of the Bill to prohibit use of snares”

Snares trap animals by securing around them. They’re frequently – though not exclusively – used by gamekeepers to stop animals from preying on pheasants, partridges and other birds persecuted by the shooting industry. While those that use them claim they’re humane, snares can leave animals seriously injured or dead, especially in winter.

Furthermore, in addition to the horror inflicted on intended targets such as foxes and rabbits, snares trap many other creatures as well. A review of snare use in the UK, commissioned by the National Anti-Snaring Campaign (NASC), said the:

“average non-target capture rate across a range of studies is around 70%”

That means seven in 10 animals caught are not the intended target. The Stage 1 Report itself cites DEFRA in giving a 60% estimate for non-target species caught by snares.

‘Humane cable restraints’

Snares’ indiscriminate operation is just one of a number of factors that the committee factored into its decision. The report mentions a number of other factors including their cruelty, the lack of adherence by the shooting industry to codes of practice, and the availability of other methods of ‘control’ such as electric fences and night shooting.

One important point, raised by Animal Aid in its statement on the report’s publication, is that the committee sidestepped the shooting industry’s attempt to sanitise snares. The Countryside Alliance, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), and others have attempted to rebrand snares as ‘humane cable restraints’ (HCRs). But the Stage 1 Report quotes Welsh agricultural minister Lesley Griffiths as having said:

“We need to be very clear that [HCRs] are exactly the same device and they’re not different in any way.”

The report shied away from pushing for a ban on the manufacture and sale of snares due to problems in precisely defining a snare.

snare
Snare in the snow, via Calder Valley Hunt Saboteurs.

One final bonus from the Stage 1 Report is that it supports a ban on glue traps, which are similarly horrific and indiscriminate.

The UK must follow

The clear desire by the Economic, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee to end the use of snares in Wales is very encouraging. Animal Aid’s campaign manager, Fiona Pereira, said:

“Animal Aid welcomes the Welsh Government’s bold commitment to banning all snares, which cause terrible suffering to more than a million animals each year, and we urge Westminster to follow its lead.”

Scotland recently showed signs of following in Wales’ footsteps. In December 2022, the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission said snares cause “significant welfare concerns” and urged for a blanket ban on their use in the nation.

Westminster, however, is years behind. Protect the Wild attended a recent Westminster Hall debate on the subject and described the event as a “debate in name only”. The UK government appears to have little interest in following its devolved counterparts.

While there is still some way before a snare ban becomes reality in Wales, the latest news shows that the shooting industry may finally be losing its grip on the narrative around wildlife.

Read Protect the Wild’s information page about snares and the shooting industry.