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Scottish Government’s Potential Ban on Snares Could Pose Threat to Endangered Species, Warn Campaigners

The Scottish government’s proposals to ban snare traps could be a “devastating” blow for rare species, says a campaigning body that represents traditional countryside activities like hunting and shooting.

The Scottish environment minister Gillian Martin said snare traps often “lead to unnecessary suffering for animals” and said the proposed ban was, “part of our ongoing efforts to ensure that wildlife management is both sustainable and humane.”

But Jake Swindells, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance said, “The use of snares is an important tool in wildlife management, which benefits conservation and a range of economic activities from agriculture, shooting, forestry and eco-tourism.”

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He added said the consequences for rare species, such as the curlew and capercaillie “could be devastating” as snares help control predators like foxes.

‘Restraining, Rather Than Killing, Device’

Mr. Swindells said: “Well-designed snares, used properly, are a humane and effective form of fox control. They are a restraining, rather than killing, device.”

He added, “Given the Scottish government has already legislated against other practical and effective alternative forms of pest control, this proposal leaves risking those working in the countryside even more unequipped.”

“Legislating as the minister suggests will only tie the hands of land managers and conservationists, while criminals continue to use illegal snares unaffected by any legislation,” added Mr. Swindells.

The Scottish government has launched a six-week consultation on the proposals, which has been welcomed by television presenter and wildlife campaigner Chris Packham.

Mr. Packham, patron of the animal welfare charity OneKind, said it was, “excellent news, and a potential win for wildlife.”

He added: “These torture devices ought to have been banned a long time ago and I’m glad that the Scottish government has finally recognised snares for the unacceptably cruel traps that they are.”

Ms. Martin said: “Currently, only a small number of farmers and land managers use snare traps. More effective and humane forms of managing wildlife are available and we will continue to support the industry to make use of these methods.”

The Welsh government banned snares earlier this year, following a vote in the Senedd in Cardiff and Mr. Packham said, “The UK government must not lag behind.”

The Scottish government Ministers are also consulting the public on extending the investigative powers of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to tackle wildlife crime such as illegal hunting and badger baiting.

Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “A ban on all snaring is the only way to stop this unacceptable suffering. We are very pleased with the announcement of a ban, which will be a historic moment for animal welfare in Scotland.”

‘Step-Change in Animal Welfare’

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association also backed the ban and chairman Alex Hogg said newer, more humane holding devices “which represent a step-change in animal welfare” should replace snares.

He said these devices, which needed to be used by trained operators, “contain added features which take account of fox welfare” and enable animals such as badgers and deer to free themselves.

Mr. Hogg said, “We feel these new devices strike exactly the right balance between animal welfare and the needs of land managers, in a rural country, to be able to legally control fox numbers to prevent serious damage to livestock and ground-nesting birds of special conservation concern.”

Politicians are increasingly trying to push legislation to combat traditional hunting methods and practices, on the grounds of animal welfare.

The Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill is currently going through the House of Lords and would ban the importation of hunting trophies from Africa or elsewhere.

But in March, Conservative MP Bill Wiggin said it was a “classic case of virtue signalling at the expense of African wildlife and the conservation efforts of African people.”

PA Media contributed to this report.

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