Emma-Jayne Saanen

Category: activism

Snares: Let’s make the ban happen!

Until recently I was unaware that snaring was legal in Scotland, having only come across snares set by poachers. However my volunteer work with OneKind has made me aware of how big of a problem snaring is, while remaining legal in many instances. OneKind and the League Against Cruel Sports have worked together to produce Cruel and Indiscriminate: Why Scotland must become snare-free, a report that clearly explains why the practice of snaring needs to come to an end.

Earth Fox

Earth Fox

Why snares have got to go

Snaring is an inhumane way of trapping animals. A frightened animal will struggle to free itself from a snare causing itself injury or to strangle itself, both can potentially lead to a slow and painful death. By law snares have to be checked every 24 hours, but imagine 24 hours of being held in place, unable to fully understand what is happening and why your attempts to free yourself are making things worse.

Snares lack the ability to discriminate between species, or between individuals of a species. Typically, snares are used to trap animals labelled as “vermin”, such as rabbits, foxes and brown hares. However, research from the Scottish SPCA, DEFRA, and OneKind show that the majority of animals who become ensnared are other species – including protected species, like badgers and Scottish wildcats, and companion animals. When a snare does catch its target species, they regularly trap youngsters, pregnant animals, and mothers who still have young to tend to. One death can then lead to many others.

Snares are often counterproductive. Legal snares are mainly used on shooting estates to stop foxes from preying on game birds. But like many species, when foxes are culled the remaining foxes move into the territory and make use of the extra resources to do what animals do – breed! There is also a myth that animals considered pests are increasing in number, but research says otherwise, with rabbits declining by 59% and foxes by 34% (from 1996-2014). These animals that are considered “vermin” are vital parts of the local ecosystem, and need to be treated as such.

Finally, if evidence suggests that the population has to be controlled then there are plenty of alternatives to snares that are less indiscriminate and less inhumane. For foxes, these include cage trapping, adding llamas to sheep flocks, and lamping. For rabbits, there is live trapping and shooting. These require more effort, but laziness is not an adequate excuse for cruelty.

Those who defend the use of snares claim that they are necessary, and an important part of conservation work. However if this were true, then Scottish conservation charities and the Scottish government would rely on snares too. They don’t. All are very much against snares, and never use snaring on their land.

The Moon and Her Children

The Moon and Her Children

You can take action to make Scotland snare-free

What I have written is a very brief review of what I learned from Cruel and Indiscriminate: Why Scotland must become snare-free. It is worth reading for yourself, and at 36 pages it should not take too long. If you feel as passionate about banning snares as I do, then here are some things you can do:

  • Write to your MSP: OneKind have created an e-action tool that will allow you to contact your MSPs and ask then to support a ban on snares in Scotland. Click here!
  • Report any snares you find: OneKind keeps a record of snares and snaring events at snarewatch.org. If you come across a snare, please add your report to the site. Click here!
  • Support OneKind and the League Against Cruel Sports: Join, donate, fundraise, volunteer or stay informed about their valuable work! Every small action really does snowball into change! Click here to visit OneKind and click here to visit the League Against Cruel Sports.


Join us at the Burpeethon!

Poster for the Burpeethon 2017Yes, my friends! It is that time of year again! Time for me to babble about the Burpeethon!

In its third and final year, the Burpeethon is a fitness challenge where we ask volunteers to come along and do as many burpees as possible to raise funds for charity. Once again, all the money raised will be going to Scottish Women’s Aid to help them bring about an end to domestic violence against women. With austerity being forced upon us, domestic violence becomes a bigger threat and is something we need to work together to combat.

As horrible burpees are, the Burpeethon is a fun day and it is suitable for most fitness levels. You go at your own pace. I have fibromyalgia and hypermobility, but I don’t let that stop me from doing what I can.

The Burpeethon is taking place on Saturday, 18th February, 2017 at the Arc, Glasgow Caledonian University. You can register at www.burpeethon.co.uk. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Weekend at Vegfest Scotland

Emma is wearing a fox onsie and standing beside a Vegfest poster

On the 3rd and 4th December Vegfest Scotland took place at the SECC. From what I’ve been told, it was the biggest gathering of vegan-friendly folk in Scotland. With a mix of good food, education, campaigning, art and retail therapy, there was something for everyone. I was volunteering for much of the event so I didn’t get to see everyone, but I want to share with you all the amazing stuff I did see!

OneKInd logoOneKind – Of course, these guys will be at the top of my list – I was volunteering at their stall! The stall was focused on the campaign to end the culling of mountain hare, and in selling some lovely Christmas cards and gift memberships. If you missed out, you can click here to visit the OneKind online store. OneKind have also launched a brand new educational resource over at onekind.org.

Give a Dog a Bone logo

Give a Dog a Bone – A new charity that I had not heard of before. Give a Dog a Bone helps the over 60s adopt a companion animal by helping to meet adoption fees, and some ongoing costs. I think this is a brilliant idea! For humans, animals can provide much needed friendship and purpose, and for animals, humans can provide a loving home away from a rescue centre.

Wear Your Voice Logo

Wear Your Voice – An awesome clothing retailer who specialises in social justice and animal rights designs. I bought two of their t-shirts over the weekend and the quality is fantastic. The icing on the cake is that around 15% of their profits go to support good causes AND they run The Hoodie Project – to give out hoodies to the homeless during winter. Good vibes all round.


Blitz Patisserie – Vegan fares are the best place for cake, and the best place for cake at a vegan fare is Blitz Patisserie! I was very late in the day when I found their stall, and the Vegfest patrons had virtually wiped them out! Luckily I was able to nab a slice of apple crumble cake and a raw mince pie. Oh. My. God. Both were delicious! Keep an eye out for them at vegan events, or follow them on Facebook to see when they are doing home deliveries in Falkirk, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Photograph of the OneKInd Stall at Vegfest Scotland

Being at Vegfest Scotland gave me a lot to think about. I know that vegetarianism and veganism are not right for me (been there, done that!), but I do want to reaffirm my commitment to a dairy-free lifestyle. I’ll maybe write about that in a separate post. I do wish more non-veg*ns had come along, just to see how great the lifestyle can be for mind, body and spirit. It also made me think about how important activism is. Many of the events I go to are focused on the lifestyle, but without the activism behind it veg*nism could just be another consumer fad. The activists bear witness, and remind us why we do what we do. But it’s also important to cut loose and have fun too!

Care for our Mountain Hares

Call on the Scottish Parliament to deliver greater protection for the mountain hare

129 hand-knitted hares were delivered to the Scottish Parliament, thrown into the back of a pick-up truck to highlight the callous disregard shown for the lives of real mountain hares.

Protesters gathered outside the Scottish Parliament

Protesters gathered outside the Scottish Parliament

On Thursday, 17th November 2016, protesters gathered at a mountain hare rally organised by OneKind. The knitted hares were gifted to MSPs with a request to halt the culling of mountain hares taking place in Scotland. Like badgers in England & Wales, the hares are being killed in vast numbers in an unscientific and unethical attempt to stop the spread of disease to red grouse. The louping ill virus is spread to the birds via a tick found on mountain hares, but there is no evidence to show that slaughtering mountain hares will halt the spread of the virus.

Hand-made hares, knitted by volunteers, getting ready to be delivered to MSPs

Hand-made hares, knitted by volunteers, getting ready to be delivered to MSPs

The mountain hare is an iconic Scottish species, so why are they valued less than red grouse?

Blood sport.

The red grouse are preserved at all cost so that they can be shot for fun by hunting enthusiasts. The enjoyment of killing, and the profits that go along with it, are prized over the hare (and of course other species, such as raptors). In addition, blood sport enthusiasts will hunt the mountain hare themselves; eight to ten hares can be killed by a single shooter in one hunt, with up to 200 being slaughtered during a single driven hunt. With mountain hare populations falling by around 34% between 1996 and 2014, mountain hare numbers are in decline and in need of protection.

OneKind, a charity focused on protecting Scotland’s animals, have been running a campaign to raise awareness of the tragedy facing mountain hares. Their long-term goal is to see complete protection of the mountain hare, while supporting steps on the way to that goal.

You can learn more about the campaign by starting here, and can sign the petition here.

I am a volunteer for OneKind, but my thoughts and opinions are my own. There will be a follow-up post where I write about my experience as a volunteer at the mountain hare rally.

Scan cats killed by cars in West Dunbartonshire

Please sign the petition: Scan cats killed by cars in West Dunbartonshire

Dougal the cat, relaxing on the couch.

All responsible cat owners will have their pets microchipped. This technology allows owners to be reunited to their pets should the worst happen, including a fatal accident. However, many local authorities in the UK do not bother to make use of microchips when they come across lost, or dead, cats.

There are risks to having outdoor cats, and road traffic accidents are one of them. As a cat owner, I feel that when such an accident happens, an owner who cares enough to microchip their pet has the right to know what has happened to their cat. In this spirit, I think that all local authorities should scan any dead cat they come across in their work.

There was a national petition about this issue, which West Dunbartonshire Council did not respond to. This gives me hope; hope that they are willing to do this one simple thing to end the awfulness of cat owners not knowing what happened to their companions.

My cat Dougal disappeared years ago. He was microchipped. He was previously in an RTA, and his microchip reunited us with him and allowed us to have him treated. But when he vanished, presumed dead, we had no information. If he was found by the local authority, we were not told. This is wrong.

Scanning a microchip takes no time at all, so I ask West Dunbartonshire Council to start scanning the deceased cats they find.

Please sign and share the petition. Thank you. 

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