Snares and the Shooting Industry

Think it's just hunts that kill foxes? Meet the shooting industry...

The estimated number of fox snares put out in England is between 62,823 and 188,283 depending on the month.

Approximately 1.7 million animals are caught in snares across the UK every year.

Most of these animals are killed by the shooting industry simply to ‘protect their birds’ long enough for them to be sold off to shooters to be killed.

"The Shooting Industry: It's not just hunts that kill foxes"

Protect the Wild animation Feb 2023

Made by Fire Lily Studio

Narrated by Sam Carter/Architects

Over 1 million views across social media in its first three days

Snares are still legal across most of the UK, despite being banned across most of Europe.

This is because of the influence of the shooting industry. Snares are largely used by gamekeepers on shooting estates. Government after government has decided that shooting live animals for ‘sport’ is a legitimate practice. Shoots want to eradicate predators, so snaring has been permitted to continue when common sense and any understanding at all of wild animal sentience would tell you it should be banned.

In fact, the defence for using snares is often presented as a straight-forward unqualified assertion, something that there’s no need for the public to question. The Scottish government, for example, said in 2013 that “Pest and predator control is an integral part of land management in Scotland. Just as you may wish to trap or remove mice from your kitchen, land managers frequently need to reduce the impact of pests and predators on their crops or livestock“.

The words ‘need’, ‘management’, and ‘pest’ doesn’t convince quite as many people as it used to do. We’re all much better at spotting what it means. We know that ‘crops or livestock’ is often a euphemism for birds reared to be shot. We have a much better sense of animal welfare and animal sentience too: we could remove a mouse humanely without killing it or causing it pain, or – even easier – just tidy up the kitchen and block access to it.

Press and media reports rarely point out several other key facts either. The industry fights to keep snares ‘legal’ partly because regulations don’t require employers to pay someone to monitor them full-time: they’re a lazy, cheap, remote way of killing animals in huge numbers. And of course they can be used time and time again.

More importantly, perhaps, it’s the shooting industry itself that is creating opportunities for predator numbers to build by providing them with atypically high numbers of prey – grouse, pheasants, and partridges. Red Grouse numbers on driven shooting estates, for example, are unnaturally high (up to ten times what they would if they weren’t ‘farmed’ for the gun), and it’s estimated that less than a third of the 40 million Common Pheasants released every year are shot. Many of the remaining birds are available to generalist predators like foxes as live prey or roadkill (almost 7% of all the animals killed on Britain’s roads are pheasants).

If you don’t want hundreds of mice in your kitchen, maybe stop pouring sacks of grain on your floor and leaving the back-door wide open

Protect the Wild wants a full ban on snares

Now that we know about snares, we need to talk to family and friends about them.