Details of Petition:

“Many people will be amazed to hear that the setting of wild animal snares is still legal within the UK, one of only five European members that still allow animal snares to be used. Snares are a totally indiscriminate and cruel wire noose usually set to trap foxes and rabbits. However, many wild animals, including protected species, can end up being their victims. Badgers, deer, otters, birds of prey, as well as pet cats and dogs can get caught and suffer appalling injuries. Under the current law, snared animals in England can remain unchecked for up to 48 hours. Almost 70 per cent of animals caught in snares are not the intended targets. Even with ‘best practice’, in some environments any snare set has a 40% chance of catching a non-target animal. When questioned, almost 80% of the general public thought that the use of snares was totally unacceptable. The Labour Party made a manifesto commitment to ban snares in 1983 and cross-party support has been given to Early Day Motions on snaring. It is time to replace this barbaric and outdated practice with more modern and humane methods of wild animal control, such as live capture traps, wire netting and electric fencing.”

Animal Snares – Government Response

The Government considers that where there is a need for wildlife management then the proper use of snares is one of a range of control methods. Used according to best practice, snares can be an effective and practical means of wildlife management and are needed where other forms of pest control are ineffective or impractical.

Self-locking snares have been banned for over 20 years and continue to be so. Defra encourages good practice when using ‘free-running’ snares as outlined below.

Following an informal consultation on snares and traps and their use carried out in 2003, Defra convened an Independent Snares Working Group (ISWG)* chaired by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. In October 2005 we published the working group’s report together with the Defra Snares Action Plan and the Defra Code of Good Practice on the use of Snares in Fox and Rabbit Control in England.

The Defra Code of Good Practice not only details the legal obligations for people using snares in England but also provides guidance on responsible use. Those using snares should be aware not only of their responsibilities under the law but also of these guidelines for good practice.

The ISWG highlighted the limited information on the humaneness of snares and Defra acknowledged this in its Snares Action Plan. Defra has therefore recently commissioned a research project – ‘CTE0701 ‘Determining the Extent of Use and Humaneness of Snares in England and Wales’. The project began on 1 February 2008 and aims to fill some of the evidence gap identified earlier so future discussions and policy decisions on these issues can be on a more informed basis.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 contains strong protection for animals under the control of man to help prevent unnecessary suffering and would cover any animal held in a snare.

Cases concerning the illegal use of snares, or other wildlife control methods, are a matter for the police and should be reported to them. Defra, along with Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom, spokesman on Wildlife Crime for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and co-chair of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime, is committed to reducing wildlife crime. We will encourage the partnership to consider the illegal use of snares.

Defra continues to remain open to possible alternatives and has funded research into immunocontraception and will support the development of new alternative methods of wildlife management. We also remain open to considering any new robust scientific evidence on snares and would review their use in the light of any such new evidence being provided.

*The group is called the Independent Working Group on Snares