In October 2004 Defra asked Dr. James Kirkwood to form and Chair an Independent Working Group to address issues surrounding the use of snares.

Defra’s stated objectives for the Group were to:

  1. Seek agreement on good practice guidelines
  2. Produce a code of good practice
  3. Advise Defra on the next steps including approximate costs of each proposal


Mr Dick Best, Veterinary Surgeon
Professor Neville Gregory, Royal Veterinary College
Professor David Macdonald, Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Oxford
Dr Tony Mitchell-Jones, English Nature
Mr Charles Nodder, National Gamekeepers Organisation
Dr Jonathan Reynolds, The Game Conservancy Trust
Mr Stewart Scull, British Association for Shooting and Conservation
Mr Hugh Thomas, Union of Country Sports Workers
Mr Michael Waters, British Veterinary Association
Mr Colin Booty, RSPCA (quit after one meeting – replaced by Mr James Cormack,
Chief Inspector SSPCA)

It all depends who is put on the Committee as to what they will find out.
Fred Beadle, British Field Sports Society’s founder

Committee Bias


Dr James Kirkwood, Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (Chairman)

Dr Tony Mitchell-Jones (English Nature – now Natural England) – Dr Mitchell-Jones personal views are not known but Natural England allow the use of snares on their Stiperstones National Nature Reserve for the benefit of grouse shooters.

Charles Nodder (National Gamekeepers Organisation) stated on 26 February 2007 that:

“Snares are a particularly important weapon in the countryside manager’s armoury, since they are capable of capturing or killing target animals whilst he is going about his business elsewhere. By using snares he can maintain control of pests without constantly being present…

“We are aware of the criticism that has been levelled against snares and snaring by animal welfare bodies and others. We believe that this criticism is in some measure stimulated and prompted by those who are opposed in principle to game management…”.

Dr Jonathan Reynolds (Game Conservancy Trust head of predation control) has been heavily involved in the development of a fox snare. Writing in the National Gamekeepers Organisation’s newsletter in 21st February 2006 he stated: “…the use of snares is under threat through an amendment to the Animal Welfare Bill, expected at the Report Stage. By the time this magazine appears in print, the worst could have happened.”

Mr Stewart Scull (British Association for Shooting and Conservation) author of ‘The case for continued, responsible use of snares as an integral part of game management.’

Hugh Thomas (Union of Country Sports Workers) believed in badger persecution:
“Surely the time is now long overdue that the legislation, the draconian legislation, which covers these mammals [badgers] we should [sic] destroying our wildlife should now be changed. And there should be a much higher cull rate of badgers overall in the country to save other species.”

Mr Michael Waters (British Veterinary Association), the BVA ‘Ethics and Welfare Group’ supports snaring. The BVA also supports the culling of badgers by “… using snares and then shooting…”. This despite the clear suffering inflicted on badgers by snares as shown on this website. A Defra report in 2007, called ‘Trials of a body snare designed to catch and hold badgers’, concluded that ‘one in three badgers caught in body snares suffered “severe” injuries which breached the criteria for “humaneness”.’

Countryside Alliance (formerly the British Fields Sports Society) – Although not listed on the committee, the final report includes their contribution.

Neutral or position unknown

Dr James Kirkwood (Universities Federation for Animal Welfare) – a member of the Companion Animal Welfare Council alongside Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior (his work for the British Field Sports Society has been was widely discredited).

Mr Dick Best (Veterinary Surgeon) – views unknown

Professor Neville Gregory (Royal Veterinary College) – views unknown

Professor David Macdonald (Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Oxford) – has used fox snares and also carried out research with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (Game Conservancy Trust) but overall probably neutral.

Against Snares

Mr James Cormack (SSPCA) – Mr Cormack views are unknown but the SSPCA opposes the use of snares.

Group summary

Independent of what? Bloodsport interest? Well clearly not. The Countryside Alliance, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, the National Gamekeepers Organisation and the Union of Country Sports Workers all are bloodsport groups that strongly support the use of snares. The inclusion of one token animal welfare organisation, in the form of the SSPCA, is typical Defra practice of attempting to give the group the appearance of ‘balance’ thus credibility.