fox caught in snare near Merthyr Tydfil

Wales has banned snares but animals are still dying in them

Wales became the first UK country to make snares illegal. But a woman from Cardiff has found a dead fox caught in one of the death traps on a Merthyr Tydfil common.

Nation Cymru reported the discovery. Caroline Nightingale, who found the fox’s body on Gelligaer Common, said:

“I’m a big animal lover and was horrified by the incident as was everyone who was with me. I just felt so sorry for the poor thing. I’ve never seen anything like that and it was so cruel.”

The Welsh snare ban came into force on 17 October 2023, under the Agriculture (Wales) Act 2023, which includes a blanket ban on the use of snares and glue traps. Anyone caught using a snare could face an unlimited fine, prison, or both.

Rural Affairs Minister Leslie Griffiths was the driving force behind the ban. She said at the time:

“We strive for the very highest standards of animal welfare in Wales, and the use of snares and glue traps are incompatible with what we want to achieve.

Many animals will now be spared the most terrible suffering as a result of this ban. I’m proud Wales is the first of the UK nations to introduce such a move.”

Before passing the law, the Welsh Senedd was subjected to pressure from the shooting industry, which was desperate to keep using snares. The torture devices are used by gamekeepers on shooting estates in a crude attempt to protect birds – who are going to be murdered for ‘sport’ anyway – from predators. Approximately 1.7 million animals were being caught in snares across the UK every year before the ban in Wales was brought in.



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

How will the ban be policed?

It is evident that despite the ban, snares are still being laid in Wales, and that animals are still dying in them. We are lucky that Caroline found this poor fox so that we can account for the creature’s death. But how many more snares are still being illegally laid in the Welsh countryside, and how many more dead or injured animals haven’t been discovered?

The Act came into force just three months ago, so it remains to be seen how the police will tackle this new wildlife crime. All eyes are on Welsh police forces to actually enforce the ban and take any reports of illegal snares seriously.



What should I do if I find a snare?

If you find a snare in Wales, report it to the police immediately.

Remember though that in England and Northern Ireland it is still legal to lay snares to catch foxes and rabbits. That makes it really important that we all understand the laws on snares and snaring (across the whole of the UK), what animals the law still allows to be snared, and what criminal charges we may face if caught damaging or taking away a snare.

It’s also important to remember that any live animal you find in a snare will be frightened. If you approach them they will try to escape (causing more injury to themselves) or attack you (potentially causing injury to us) – that’s especially important to remember if you come across a badger in a snare as they are such powerful animals.

If you do find a snare where it is not legal to place them then you should report the snare to the police (and wildlife investigators). If an animal has been snared illegally you should also call the police but also call a wildlife rescue or the RSPCA.


  • To read more about snares, go to Protect the Wild’s page, Snares and the Law, which provides invaluable information on the legality of snares, more information on what to do if you find an animal caught in a snare, and whether you can legally remove a snare.


Featured image via Nation Cymru