The Use of Snares in Wales
Snaring is a method of wildlife management which can cause immense pain and suffering to animals. Victims of snares may die of strangulation or they may weaken, stop struggling and starve to death or be killed by predators, if left unattended.
The use of snares is still widespread and as many as 51,000 fox snares can be active in Wales at any one time. The use of fox snares in Wales is subject to legal restrictions, principally through the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, Animal Welfare Act 2006 and Deer Act 1991.Using self-locking snares which tighten with a ratchet-like mechanism is illegal as is the use of snares to catch certain protected animals like badgers and otters.
The Welsh Government has introduced a code of best practice on the use of snares in fox control and users of legal free-running snares must take all reasonable precautions to prevent them catching or causing injury to protected animals like badgers, and to check set snares at least once per day. However, while the Code sought to raise awareness and understanding of the law concerning snaring, what has become clear is often a lack of compliance with the 2015 Code, raising questions over its efficacy and raising public interest in an outright ban on the cruel and indiscriminate practice. RSPCA Cymru has sat on a Welsh Government Working Group, which was established following a 2017 Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee report into snaring; and we feel has proven a key forum in highlighting a lack of adherence with the Code and the need for an outright ban.
Snares are cruel and indiscriminate in what they catch and the RSPCA supports an outright ban on their use in Wales. Animals caught in snares can suffer a slow and agonising death due to injury, heightening RSPCA Cymru calls for the Welsh Government to implement an outright ban.
RSPCA Cymru welcomed the publication of the Welsh Government's White Paper on the Agriculture (Wales) Bill in December 2020, which outlined the intention to amend the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to allow Ministers in Wales to regulate the cruel and indiscriminate use of snares. While any steps to further regulate snare in Wales are welcome, the RSPCA remains opposed to the manufacture, sale and use of all snares or any trap that causes suffering and believe an outright ban is the only way to ensure this indiscriminate and cruel practice does not result in the further suffering of animals - so we look forward to the current governing party in Wales fulfilling a manifesto commitment to ban snares altogether.