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Why aren't snares illegal?

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

Fox in the Woods
Fox in the Woods

The use of snares is an incredibly controversial subject in the UK and even around the world. There are many debates between people who agree with the use of them to help control the populations of wildlife and those who believe that it is a cruel and nasty method that leads to the unpleasant death of an innocent animal. The use of snares has a large affects on our wildlife, the environment and the ethics surrounding the treatment of wild animals. Therefore, I thought I would weigh in, here are my thoughts on the use of snares in the UK:

Are snares legal in the UK?

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife Order (Northern Ireland) 1985, self-locking snares are illegal but free-running snares are legal throughout the UK.

What is a snare?

A snare is a trap usually to capture a bird or mammal using a noose of wire or cord. There are two types of snares that are most commonly used, which as mentioned above are free-running and self-locking snares.

  • Free-running snares: Is a wired loop that hooks onto the animal tightening to stop it escaping; when and if the animal relaxes and stops pulling the noose can become loose.

  • Self-locking snares: As before is a wire loop that continuously tightens, often through a ratchet action, as the animal struggles. It only tightens and will not become loose, even if the animal relaxes and stops pulling.

Why are free-running snares legal?

White Rabbit in the Grass
White Rabbit in the Grass

So, why are these contraptions that harm animals legal in the UK (UK only allow free-running snares and not self-locking). Well they are often defended for their use in 'pest control' and wildlife management, mainly for foxes and rabbits. Additionally, they are used for trapping animals for food and research programmes. The law does state that any snare set has to be set to capture a specific animal, and must be done so not to snare others. This is due to it being illegal to snare many animals such as badgers, hedgehogs, pine martens, otters, wild cats, and red squirrels to name a few. Although, the list of what can and can’t be snared differs depending on the country (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland) snares can still be placed throughout the UK but does require a permit and permission from the landowner. An additional requirement is that snares are inspected daily and set in a way to not cause injury to any wild animals (often it does).

So, what is the main problem?

After all this, there is a long debate as to if snares should be legal and if they should be banned. This is often seen by the strong criticism from animal welfare groups. The strongest argument for those in support of snares is to help control animal numbers for wildlife management and although this could be argued as being beneficial, I strongly believe that snares should not be used even for this reason. Here are my reasons to why all snares should be illegal:

Thick trunks of a group of trees in the woods.
Thick Trunks of Trees
  • Death – Simply, the reason that the snare is designed to capture a free roaming, wild animal to be killed is enough in its own right.

  • Stress & Pain – Prior to the animals’ death the snare will cause high amount and prolonged stress and pain, which nothing should go through.

  • Harm protected species – Even if snares were accepted as useful when managed correctly to helps control animal population it could have adverse affects on other wildlife. There are still times where animals (sometimes endangered) that should not be caught by the snare often are and sometimes results in their death.

Metal wire
Metal Wire
  • The mechanism – Again if snares were accept, as above, it is still a dangerous unethical and violent option to achieve wildlife management. This is emphasized in that many snares that are set-up are set-up incorrectly and in certain locations or when they become damaged, quickly become a self-locking snare and a potentially slow killing trap.

  • Alternatives – Further to this, if animal control is 100% required there are many other traps with safer means of capturing the animal. These alternative do not cause as much or any harm and distress to the animal. Essentially meaning there is no real reason for the continued use of the snare.

What can you do?

After all of this I would like to think you have a negative outlook towards snares and want to do something about preventing them being used in your area or country. To help you with this there are three essential ways to go about doing this:

  1. Sign a petition – There are tons of petitions in regards to animal welfare, protecting wildlife and importantly in this case stopping the use of snares, so you can sign them right now.

  2. Share the news – Tell people and share information on your social media about snares and what they do. This can be to persuade them to sign the petitions above and understand the harm snares really cause.

  3. Join a group – Much like the petition there are tons of groups who protest against cruelty to animals and for the protection of wildlife. You could join a group to get people to take notice and make a change. This can also put pressure on governments to change the law on the use of snares.

People protesting

This is one of my more serious blog posts that I have done but I really hope it will make you think of what is going on in the UK and how its wildlife is managed. If you haven't guested I strongly disagree with the use of snares, due to all the issues I detailed above but mainly comes down to the prolonged pain and stress that any animal caught in one goes through. I don’t think anything should have to go through a prolonged period of pain and stress, especially before they are slaughtered. Let me know what you think and start spreading this post to get more people aware of snares and how to stop them. Finally, use the hashtag #Stopthesnare on your social media accounts to further help spread the word. Remember we can make a difference.

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