Scotland snare ban: Join Chris Packham in making your voice heard

Chris Packham has joined animal rights charities to celebrate “a potential win for wildlife” as Scotland moves closer to banning snares.

As we reported on 22 August, the Scottish government is asking for views on whether the use of snares should be “banned as part of new plans to protect vulnerable wildlife”. The consultation will run until 3 October. Protect the Wild urges everyone who cares about our wildlife to fill in the form, and let the Scottish government know that only an all-out snare ban is good enough.

‘Torture devices’

Packham said of the consultation:

“These torture devices ought to have been banned a long time ago and I’m glad that the Scottish Government has finally recognised snares for the unacceptably cruel traps that they are.”

He is patron of the Scottish animal rights charity OneKind, which has campaigned for decades for a snare ban in the country. Without the charity’s dedicated work, a ban on snares might not be on the horizon. Over the years, it has organised protests, petitions and letter writing actions. And its snare reporting tool, SnareWatch, has proved invaluable for campaigners, as it documents all the torturous incidents where animals are caught in snares.

The charity announced that it was “delighted that the Scottish Government has listened to the voices of Scotland’s people”. It continued:

“We have long campaigned for a ban on the manufacture, sale and use of snares in Scotland. And our supporters have been by our side every step of the way.

While we’ve had successes along the way in achieving more stringent conditions placed upon snares, we’ve been very clear throughout that regulation cannot end the cruelty inflicted upon animals by snares and that only a ban put an end to this cruelty.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals supported the consultation. It stated:

“As Scotland’s animal welfare charity, we have long called for an outright ban on the use of snares due to the level of suffering an animal is caused, whether snares are used legally, or illegally.”


badger caught in snare
A badger was found almost garrotted by a snare. Photo by North East Essex Badger Group

‘He was nearly cut in half’

Snares are wire nooses used to restrain foxes, usually on bird-shooting estates. The metal devices hold the fox until someone comes and shoots her. Self-locking snares are illegal in the UK, but the use of free-running snares is still legal in England and Scotland, despite being banned in most of Europe. Free-running snares should, in theory, relax if an animal stops struggling, while illegal self-locking snares tighten, and won’t loosen at all. But in reality, an animal, no matter how strong, can not escape once trapped in a snare.

SnareWatch has recently documented numerous incidents of animals being tortured by snares. On 23 August a cocker spaniel “narrowly escaped strangulation when she was caught in a snare on the Roxburgh Estate in the Scottish Borders.” And on 23 June “a cat was caught in one of three snares that were found in Morningside, Edinburgh.” Just one month earlier, on 23 May, another cat called Harry went missing for five days. He “received horrific injuries from a snare in the Lauriston area of St Cyrus, Aberdeenshire.” Harry’s guardian stated:

“I felt sick that Harry had been tortured like this, he had been missing for 5 days and the thought of him being trapped in a snare all that time makes me feel sick, but the severity of his injuries would indicate this. I thought he was nearly cut in half when I went to lift him.

It will be a miracle if he recovers from his injuries and I really hope the person responsible for trapping and probably releasing him gets caught or at the very least, feels remorse for what they have done to our innocent defenceless cat and hope they will never set another snare…

He is very poorly, and we still don’t know if he is going to pull through, but we are doing all we can.”

Following in Wales’ footsteps

Scotland is far ahead of England when it comes to its existing animal rights laws and potential new laws. It has already passed a new law banning the hunting of animals with dogs, essentially making the fox hunting industry difficult to survive. And it is in the process of passing the Wildlife Management and Muirburn Bill through parliament, which will ban glue traps and force land owners to to have a licence to allow grouse shooting on their land. On top of this, those managing moorland will also need a licence to burn the moor at any time of the year. A snare ban will potentially become part of this new bill.

If Scotland does ban snares, it will be fast on the heels of Wales. The Agriculture (Wales) Act became law after receiving royal assent on 17 August. It has banned the use of both snares and glue traps.

Scottish land owners will be making their pro-snare, pro-cruelty voices loudly heard. They will try to convince Scottish ministers that a ban on snares would be “devastating” to their livelihoods, Therefore it’s essential that you make your opinion known: snares are cruel and unnecessary, and need to be banned in Scotland once and for all. And when Scotland bans these disgusting devices, it will surely only be a matter of time until England has to do the same.