Statement from the HSA:
“Snares are implements designed to trap and hold animals, they are noose styled lengths of material that tighten around the victim. In today’s world they are mostly found made of thin wire cable but their rough design and use dates back to the early stage of human development. Cave paintings point to snares being used to capture animals as far back as Palaeolithic times.
You’d be right to think such an outdated method of trapping animals is cruel and unnecessary. Snaring is indiscriminate as any creature that accidentally places its head or leg in the loop of a snare is likely to be caught. Many domestic animals, particularly cats and dogs are caught in snares although of course many incidents will go unreported and sadly some pet animals will never be found. The intention when using a snare is to hold an animal in place until somebody comes to kill the animal. All animals caught in snares will be very distressed and suffer minor or serious injury. The longer the animals are left, the more dehydrated and starved they will become. Some may suffocate if caught by the neck and snared animals are exposed to other predators and to weather conditions that they can’t shelter from. Many animals will suffer the fate of being snared and perish before being found.
Snares are used across the world and some types frequently catch animals as large as elephants and tigers. The snare is a cruel tool often used by poachers and gamekeepers alike.
The British countryside is littered with snares. They are not usually easy to see because they are not obvious and generally they are found on private land, but not always. A typical place to locate snares is on a pheasant shooting estate with the intended catch being foxes. Even pro-shooting organisations acknowledge that non-target animals such as badgers are regularly caught in snares and that snares can cause immense suffering to animals.
In England, Scotland and Wales the legislation on snares is covered by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Scotland also uses the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011. Northern Ireland uses the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.
In the UK, self locking snares are illegal yet legal ‘free running’ snares can cause as much damage. The laws prohibit setting snares in a place where they might catch a non-target animal such as a badger. Snares should be checked once every 24 hours.
‘Free running’ means the snare should relax when the animal stops struggling or be fitted with a stop meaning it cannot continue to tighten. There are ‘break away’ snares with a weak link which is supposed to allow bigger animals to break free, however these don’t appear to be commonly used.
Scotland tightened regulations on snares but this hasn’t benefited animals. Those deploying snares must attend a training course before doing so and register to have an identification number. Also in Scotland, snares must have safety stops fitted and the users ID number must be displayed on a tag.
It is an offence to kill or take a deer using a snare under the UK Deer Act 1991. Badgers, otters, red squirrels and hedgehogs can not be legally snared and no birds must be snared. It is important to note that the animals mostly and legally targeted by snaring are all in decline in the UK; the fox, brown hare and rabbit.
As well as the legislation, In 2005 DEFRA issued a Code of Practice on the use of snares for fox and rabbit control but it is not statutory and therefore fairly meaningless.
There followed DEFRA-Commissioned research on Determining the Extent of Use and Humaneness of Snares in England and Wales. This prompted the Welsh Government to publish the Code of Best Practice on the Use of Snares in Fox Control in September 2015.
In 2016 there was a debate in the house of commons on the proposal to ban the manufacture, sale, possession and use of snares which did not result in a ban.
In 2012 a UK government study found that only around a quarter of the animals caught in snares were the intended targets. The remaining three quarters of the animals caught, severely injured or killed in snares included hares, badgers, family cats and dogs, deer and otters. Based on the government’s 2012 research, it is possible that snares may be trapping up to 1,700,000 animals every year.
If found, animals freed from snares must receive veterinary treatment as they are likely to be hurt.
Snares need banning now. The current legislation is causing the untold suffering of many animals.”
You can find out more about the Hunt Saboteurs Association here.