Scottish government consulting on snare ban and extended powers for SSPCA

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” and whether inspectors from the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) “should be given extra legislative powers to investigate wildlife crime”.

Both proposals are part of consultations being undertaken for the final drafting of the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill, which was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 21 March 2023.

The government says that the consultation will close on 3rd October 2023. It invites anyone responding to use the Scottish Government’s consultation online platform Citizen Space.


A dead black cat and red fox are laid next to each other in melting snow. These were found by runner Paul Carmen near Bolton Abbey. Snares were nearby.
Dead cat and fox found at Bolton Abbey with snares nearby, via Paul Carmen.

Our views

Protect the Wild does not usually suggest or proscribe answers to consultations, but anyone who has read our strong views against the use of snares (see for example ‘Snares and the Shooting Industry‘) will know that we unequivocally support a full ban. Snares are barbaric and indiscriminate tools. We agree wholeheartedly with Environment Minister Gillian Martin who is quoted on the government website saying:

Snare traps lead to unnecessary suffering for animals and these proposals are part of our ongoing efforts to ensure that wildlife management is both sustainable and humane.”


The proposal to give more powers to SSPCA Inspectors is something we also endorse. The extended powers will be limited (inspectors would not be given powers to stop and search people or powers of arrest), but it would give them additional powers to search, examine and seize evidence in connection with a number of offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

This makes good sense, and the government website provides as an example extending an inspector’s power to seize illegal traps. As the law currently stands, “an SSPCA inspector who is responding to a case of a live animal caught in an illegally set trap, is not able to seize any other illegal traps in the immediate vicinity which don’t contain live animals or search the area for evidence of other illegally set traps. Under government proposals, in these circumstances an inspector would have the power to seize the illegally set traps and search for evidence of other illegally set traps in the vicinity”.

The consultation is at pains to point out that powers would only be given to an inspector appointed by the Scottish Government, and that all inspectors would be required to undertake specified training prior to being given authorisation to exercise the new powers.

Shooting estates have long resisted the extra enforcement that would come from additional powers for SSPCA inspectors. That’s hardly surprising given numerous cases where inspectors were already on the scene of a wildlife crime as part of a joint operation but were unable to act despite the evidence being right in front of them!


The Consultation

The consultation runs to just six pages.

The first two contain four questions on snaring and three on extending the powers of SSPCA inspectors. The next two are asking for routine personal details (data that the government pledges to protect). Page Five is an evaluation of the process. Page Six is a confirmation that your views have been submitted.

The pages can easily be filled in under ten minutes unless you want to exercise your right to provide longer answers.