Vet Jaynie Matthews with the snare
Vet Jaynie Matthews with the snare

PET dogs and cats, as well as wild badgers, are being caught in deadly snares in the countryside, ‘The Banffshire Journal’ can reveal this week.

Warnings have gone out to residents in the Fisherie and King Edward area not to allow their pets to wander after cats and dogs were seriously injured in snares.

In recent weeks, at least two badgers – a protected species – are reported to have been killed by the vicious traps. The wire snares tighten as the animal struggles to break free.

It is feared that other rare animals such as red squirrels and polecats could be at risk from the traps, which are usually set to catch rabbits or foxes.

Linda Gardiner, co-ordinator of Turriff and District Cats Protection, said: “Two dogs which were recently caught in snares were fortunately released immediately because their owners were with them; otherwise they would have faced a painful, lingering death.

“We had to take a cat to the vet in Banff two weeks ago because it had been caught in a snare. It was badly injured, but survived.

“Sadly, these are not isolated incidents. We know of other cats, dogs and badgers being caught in these snares, which have been placed in woodland and hedgerows around the Fisherie and King Edward area.

Rescued badger from snare
The badger was rescued from a snare on a Scottish estate

“Two badger deaths have been reported to a wildlife police officer in recent weeks.”

A spokeswoman for Grampian Police confirmed that an investigation was under way into the death of a badger found snared in the King Edward area on August 17.

Vet Christine Maclean, of Bellevue Vetinerary Group in Castle Street, Banff, said she had had to anaesthetise a cat brought to her by Turriff and District Cats Protection two weeks ago before removing the snare seen in our picture.

She said: “It is difficult for the people who rescue animals from snares. The trapped animal is usually in a very distressed and aggressive state.

“These traps are a real threat to cats; many domestic cats are free-roaming and travel considerable distances.

“Snares should be banned – they lead to a cruel death.

“I also suspect they may be in use between Banff and Portsoy.”

A spokeswoman for Turriff and District Cats Protection said: “It seems these traps are catching everything except the creatures they are designed to catch, so for pet owners there is a real risk of their much-loved companion dying a horrible death.

“It is illegal to set in position any snare likely to cause bodily injury to any wild animal such as badgers, pine martens, otters, red squirrels, wild cats, polecats or hedgehogs, so this activity is clearly going on without regard to the law.

“Guidance states that wherever possible, snares should not be set on or near public footpaths, rights of way, near housing and areas regularly used for the exercise of domestic animals, yet they are often set close to roadsides, where dog owners regularly exercise their pets.

“Snaring is legal, but in this area it is clearly a proven hazard to domestic pets and protected wild animals alike, so we are urging residents to take particular care and not to allow their pets to wander if at all possible.”

A spokesman for the League Against Cruel Sports said: “We believe snaring is terribly cruel, indiscriminate and wholly unnecessary, and are calling for an end to the manufacture, sale and use of all snares in the UK.

“Snares are thin wire nooses that are set to trap any animal perceived to be a pest or threat. The primitive design of a snare silently garrottes its victims, and often leads to a painful and lingering death.

“Commonly used by gamekeepers to catch foxes, rabbits and stoats, many protected mammals such as badgers and otters, as well as livestock and even domestic pets, are caught, seriously injured and killed in snares.

“Snaring is banned in most countries across Europe, but is still legal in the UK.”

Simon Wild, of the National Anti Snaring Campaign, said: “The Scottish Government has decided to tinker with snaring legislation, mainly by demanding that snares are anchored and have a stop, in an attempt to prevent complete constriction.

“However, when snaring was considered by DEFRA in the proposed badger cull last year, they experimented and found that the injuries caused by stopped and anchored snares were such that these snares ‘did not meet the criterion of humaneness’. Legislating to continue to allow an indiscriminate and inhumane activity shows that the Scottish Government is still weak and under the thrall of the powerful land barons.”