I share concern about the use of snares, which I believe are inhumane and can cause extreme suffering to animals and often a painful, lingering death. The government should implement a ban.
There was a Backbench Business debate in the House of Commons on this issue on July 21st which called on the government to implement a full ban on the manufacture, sale, possession and use of snares at the earliest opportunity. The motion was agreed to in the House of Commons without a vote.
In 2008, the previous Labour government commissioned research to determine how often snares are used in England and Wales and the level of suffering they inflict upon the animals snared. This research, which was finally published by the Coalition Government in 2012, recommended increased education for those who use snares, improving the uptake of the Code of Practice on snaring and encouraging the use of Code compliant snares.
The current government has confirmed that land management organisations and gamekeeping associations have developed a new code of best practice on the use of snares for fox control in England, which would also be suitable for rabbits. The new code has yet to be published but the government has said it will be published soon and the government believes it will build on the previous code of practice issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and have more success in promoting good practice on the use of snares. The government has also stated its view that the new code of practice should be given a chance to come into effect before it will consider further regulation.
However, the current voluntary code is not working and existing legislation is not being properly enforced. Research shows that only 25 per cent of animals caught in snares are target animals, meaning 75 per cent are not. Snares are therefore indiscriminate and inhumane.
There are several alternatives to snares that can be used, which evidence suggests can be incredibly effective. Electronic fencing can be used for foxes, as can fencing set deep into the ground so that animals cannot burrow under it. Fencing is also recommended for protection from rabbits. In addition, scare devices can be used, and if they are moved around, it can stop habituation so animals continue to be scared off by them. Other alternatives include chemical repellents and cage trapping, which mean animals can be released unharmed instead of injured.
I believe the evidence is now in favour of a complete ban and the current government should therefore bring forward legislation to ban snares.