The National Anti Snaring Campaign receives many of its best tip offs from dog walkers. Many will have found their dog has run off during a walk and are horrified to find them in a snare; they realise how easily they could have been killed or seriously injured. Most snares are set by gamekeepers to kill foxes, but they could even be be set in private gardens as they can be bought by anyone.
In July of this year the owner of a dog whose leg had to be amputated after being caught in a snare in Cornwall had been missing for ten days! A gardener found the dog trapped by the leg in a snare under a hedge. Sarah Nuttall, who has had the dog since it was a puppy, said it was a miracle Molly survived.
A typical email we receive is this lucky escape by a man walking his dog in Lincolnshire in 2010: “I am just reporting a incident that happened today. I have attached photos of the snare and my dog which has a burst eye vessel. I have removed the snares. I realise now I should properly have left them where they were but I didn’t know and was very angry after losing my dog for 3 hours and then finding her lying caught in a snare.”
In other cases the snare injuries result in amputations because there is no legal requirement to fit restricting stops that might prevent the snare closing to a small diameter. In 2009 a dog walker in Surrey found her dog return with a typical snaring injury from an unstopped snare that resulted in amputation.
But other dog owners do not get away so lightly: John Hopper from County Durham had been walking his Springer Spaniel in the field adjoining allotments in Spennymoor, County Durham in 2011 and she failed to return when he called. He found her choked by a fox snare. The vet’s report confirmed the dog had died of strangulation and would have been in a lot of pain and distress.
Dog walker uncovers the most graphic example of the cruelty and indiscriminate nature of snares:
A dog walker in Hampshire helped us uncover what still stands as the most graphic evidence of snare carnage caused to badgers. We received an email in 2007 from a lady who had been walking her dog at Stockbridge, Hampshire when it ran off and was caught in a fox snare. She said there was a strong smell of dead animals. When we searched the area, we found evidence of five badgers in varying states of decomposition and cut snares with badger hair. Two badgers were taken for post-mortem. One was shown to have died from the snare and the other had been shot and buried. The gamekeepers and landowner turned up when the police visited the area with us. They stood by the snares and did not deny setting them, but when interviewed formally weeks later, they concocted a story that they had not set the snares, and were never prosecuted!
The government’s DEFRA department has recently published a report on The Extent and Humanness of Snaring in England and Wales. Its key finding was that commercially available snares were causing such significant injuries and deaths that they were not meeting our obligations under the International Trapping Standards for Restraining Devices. A link to the DEFRA report and our views can be found at: http://archive.defra.gov.uk/temp/wm0315-humaneness-snares.pdf
Please let DEFRA know of your snaring experiences, or look at the report and make comments as part of the consultation on this report. Contact:
Senior Wildlife Advisor, CCU,
4th Floor, Ergon House, Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2AL.
What happens with this report will determine snaring legislation for years to come.