Foxes Trapped and Killed for their Fur in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
The fur trade is strongly condemned by the vast majority of the UK population. Such cruel and unnecessary suffering is rejected by consumers and politicians alike. Yet from a small village in south west Wales, a lone fur trapper continues the UK’s international fox fur trade. Acting upon reports of wildlife crime and cruelty, the Hunt Investigation Team investigated.
David Sneade has spent decades targeting wildlife populations around his home in Maes Morfa, Newport. The area sits within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, and is abundant with wildlife, woodlands and nature reserves. During the winter months, Sneade traps foxes for their pelts, to export to buyers in Sweden. He sets snares along hedgerows, on country lanes and on the boundaries of Wildlife Trust nature reserves such as Pengelli and Cilgerran.
Members of the public witnessed and documented Sneade’s brutal regime in 2019. Once the foxes have been snared, Sneade bludgeons them with a wooden bat to stun them. In the witnesses’ video, he uses multiple brutal blows. He then casually brings the still breathing fox to the roadside. He then crushes it with his foot to finally end the life of the wounded animal. This horrific process is used by trappers to preserve the foxes’ pelts. An eye witness described prolonged fear, pain and suffering of this fox:
“The way the fox was handled was disgusting and incredibly disturbing. The first smash round the head left it in severe pain and struggling for breath, he dropped the animal on the floor and stood on it to stop it escaping. It lay there struggling, staring me in the eyes before he smashed it round the head with a stick again. This kind of behaviour has to stop.”
Other witnesses also found skinned fox carcasses discarded in the hedgerows: their mutilated bodies cast aside once the fur had been removed. Other foxes died in the snares, useless for fur and simply left to rot. Sneade set his snares illegally in hedges and without the landowners’ permission. His killing method caused sustained and unnecessary suffering. Another witness stated:
“I still feel traumatised after witnessing Sneade’s cruelty. I saw a snared fox being dragged out of of hedge and on another occasion a freshly skinned fox carcass disregarded beneath a hedge on the road side. I feel like I was feeling all the pain and suffering these beautiful wild animals went through. I still can’t get the horrific images out of my head. It’s been very difficult knowing this cruelty would continue again and again.”
HIT’s investigation found that Sneade processes the pelts in a macabre skinning workshop at the inconspicuous Ponclydach cottage at Nevern. Here, Sneade skins and dismembers the bodies, using gruesome knives and stretching racks. He prepares the pelts, using the foxes’ own brain fluid in the process. Numerous pelts are strung out and the stench is palpable from the road. The garden is littered with fox skeletons and he prepares carcasses as bait to entice his next victims in to snare. The property does not appear to be registered with APHA, meaning it is most likely in breach of legislation around animal byproducts. Sneade states online that he trades his pelts in Sweden, for as little as £15 per pelt.
Sneade was reported to the RSPCA in 2019 and interviewed under caution but was not prosecuted. Undeterred, Sneade continued his killing spree into 2020, plundering wildlife for his own profit. In 2020, he was convicted of separate wildlife offences relating to fishing. His shameless persecution of Pembrokeshire’s abundant wildlife continues.
Few people would even suspect that fur trapping is still permitted in the UK – but there is no specific law against it at present. Sneade appears to ignore other wildlife protection legislation, using snares which are often unlawful and without landowners’ permission. His “trade” is entirely unregulated. He operates on public country lanes in the national park, exposing residents and visitors to scenes of horrific animal cruelty. Wildlife should be safe in the UK’s national parks – not snared, bludgeoned and crushed for fur.
Fur farming is banned in the UK, but fur trapping has not yet been addressed. Fur trapping clearly has the potential for huge wildlife crime and cruelty in our countryside. HIT is exposing this barbaric industry and calling for a complete ban on fur trapping in the UK.
See this page for more Information on Wild Fur Trapping.