What is a snare?
A snare is a primitive means of ‘pest’ control consisting of a thin wire noose used to trap wild animals. The snare is positioned in such a way that one end is attached to the ground or a heavy object while the other end forms a loop, which traps the animal and tightens as the animal struggles.
Free-running snares are supposed to work in such a way that if the animal stops struggling the wire will slacken off. However this is not always the case.
What are snares used for?
Snares are used to trap animals such as rabbits and foxes that are perceived by some to be pests. Snares are used by some farmers to try to catch rabbits, and by gamekeepers on sporting estates to try to catch foxes in an attempt to protect game birds reared for shooting. The purpose of a snare is to immobilise its target but they can cause serious injury and often death.
Are snares cruel?
Yes, snares are cruel. They have the potential to inflict extreme injuries on animals and can often be responsible for painful and lingering deaths. Not only this, once an animal is trapped in a snare it can suffer from dehydration, starvation and distress as well as being at a higher risk from other predators.
An Independent Working Group on Snares, reporting to DEFRA in 2005, identified a long list of harm caused to animals caught in snares. Adverse impacts included:
- the stress of restraint, which could include frustration, anxiety and rage
- fear of predation or capture whilst held by the snare
- friction, penetration and self-inflicted skin injuries whilst struggling against or fighting the tether
- pain, thirst, hunger and exposure when restrained for long periods
- pain, injury and reduced ability to survive that could persist following escape
- stress of capture and handling before despatch by the snare operator
- pain and injury associated with killing by the snare operator if unconsciousness is not immediate.
In December 2007, the Scottish SPCA released a report on snaring compiled from the evidence of Scottish SPCA inspectors, wildlife crime police officers and vets. The Report revealed that, although snares are meant to be restraining devices, more than half the animals reported were either found dead in the snare or had to be put down.
What animals are caught in snares?
Ban Snares Snares are indiscriminate. They may be set to trap rabbits or foxes but in reality any animal is at risk as it is impossible to set a snare that will only catch the intended species. Protected species such as otters and badgers, as well as livestock, hare, deer and even domestic cats and dogs are just some of the animals, which can be caught in a snare.
The proportion of non-target species caught and held in snares set for foxes has been calculated as ranging from 21-69%: the report of the UK government’s Independent Working Group on Snaring estimated that it might be difficult, in some environments, to reduce the overall proportion of non-target animals caught in fox snares to below about 40%.
In December 2007, the Scottish SPCA released a report on snaring compiled from the evidence of Scottish SPCA inspectors, Ban Snareswildlife crime police officers and vets.
It showed that of the animals caught in snares – ranging from badgers and deer to pet cats and dogs – only 23 per cent of the animals reported were the intended foxes or rabbits. Therefore a massive 77% of animals caught were of other non-target species.
What is the current law on snaring?
It is currently legal to set a free-running snare, which consists of a piece of wire threaded through a simple eyelet at one end, allowing, in theory, free movement of the wire in both directions. The noose should relax when a caught animal struggles, reducing the chance of strangulation, although this is not always the case and the noose can tighten when the trapped animal struggles. Snares designed to be free-running can act as self-locking snares if they become rusty, kinked or matted with the hair of captured animals.
What is the current law on Snaring?
It is already against the law to set a self-locking snare, which is a snare with a small metal device at one end allowing the wire to only run freely in one direction. When an animal is caught in a self-locking snare, the noose tightens, but does not slacken off when the animal stops struggling. It is also illegal to possess a self locking snare without a reasonable excuse.
The Nature Conservation Act (Scotland) 2004 tightened up regulations on free running snares making it illegal to set a snare on land where permission has not been given by the landowner. The Act also states that snares must be checked every 24 hours and trapped animals must be released or humanely dispatched if they are not already dead. In November 2006, the then Scottish Executive issued a consultation seeking views on a number of options on the future of snares. The results of the consultation were released in August 2007 and showed 70 per cent of a total of 247 responses favoured a total ban.
How does this compare with the rest of the UK and Europe?
The UK is one of only a small number of countries in the EU, which still permit the use of snares. Other European countries that still allow snares are France, Ireland, Spain and Belgium.
What can I do to help the campaign?
Sign our petition on the Advocates for Animals ‘Take Action’ page.