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.