Snares are surprisingly legal in the UK and land owners are allowed to use them to catch ‘pests’, or ‘foxes’ as I prefer to describe them. Sadly due to the fact that you can’t control which animal walks into the path of a snare, this means that not just foxes are caught, but badgers, otters, wildcats, sheep, cattle, deer, rabbits, birds and domestic pets. Defra law also states that a snare should not be a means to kill an animal, but to restrain it only. If a dead animal is found in a snare, the snare should not be reset in the same location.
‘Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife Order (Northern Ireland) 1985, free-running snares are legal throughout the UK, while self-locking snares are illegal. A free-running snare is supposed to slacken when the animal stops struggling, while a self-locking snare can only become tighter. However, these terms are not clearly defined and a rusted, kinked or knotted snare effectively becomes self-locking.’
If an animal dies in a snare, it is an agonising and terrifying way to die. The animal walks into the wire hoop which has been set and if caught by the neck & panic sets in causing the snare to lock and tangle, the animal can die of slow strangulation lasting many hours. If another part of the body is trapped, it can result in the garrotting of the limb or gradual starvation if the animal is not found in time. Games keepers are supposed to inspect snares daily, but this has often proven to not been the case, resulting in a slow death for the animal. Wildlife does not have the luxury of the same protection laws from death by snaring given to domestic animals, as it is currently illegal to kill a domestic animal in such a manner.
So why use snares? Well it’s a contradiction in terms. The game keeper wants to kill animals who hunt their game birds in order to keep the game birds alive, so the game keeper and hunters can then kill the same birds for pleasure, for money and for sport.
Charity OneKind filmed alongside Bill Oddie in an undercover investigation in Scotland, where Bill is guided to a spot where some snares have been laid by a land owner. It is apparent by the footage that not only do the animals not stand a chance, due to the amount of snares laid in one area alone, any animal can be caught by the snares, as they have been heavily baited with food (labelled as a stink pit) in order to lure all manner of animals in.
The League Against Cruel Sports have made Snares a priority on their agenda for this year due to the fact that not enough of the UK population are aware that they legally exist and also because it is a cruel, barbaric and torturous way to kill and capture an animal. Too many protected species, such as badgers, are regularly found dead in snares as there is no way of targeting foxes alone.
In February 2015 The League Against Cruel Sports uncovered some ground breaking secret footage at a farm in Devon showing the illegal use of snares around the edge of a deeply dug ‘stink’ pit. The snares were found to be illegally hung over the edge of the pit which has been baited with dead livestock, such as baby lambs, which is also illegal. The film shows the farmer removing throttled foxes from the snares and simply chucking them back into the pit to become more bait to lure in more foxes. The farmer knows he is acting illegally by having dead livestock in the pit & snares hung around the circumference of the hole, so repeatedly asks for reassurance that he is not being filmed.
The most important thing that the British public can help with is to report any snares which they feel are illegal, such as snares laid next to badger sets, in or around deeply dug trenches, on private land against the knowledge of the land owner, or near areas used by dog walkers or domestic animals. If you find a live animal in a snare, you can report it immediately so as to make sure it is freed before serious injury or death.
To report anything illegal, contact your local police with an exact location and map reference if you can. The Police Wildlife officer should attend your call. If you choose to stay anonymous, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 and they will contact your local police on your behalf. Anneka & Bill would like to also stress that this Vlog is not simply about legalities, but about whether snares are actually cruel and unethical, which they both deeply feel they are. Snares have had their part in our primitive past and have no part in our future, so please join with us in urging our government to ban snares for good.
Anneka and Bill x
Thankyou to League Against Cruel Sports and OneKind for the use of their footage and photographs in the making of this Vlog/Blog – please visit their sites here:
League Against Cruel Sports: http://www.league.org.uk/our-campaigns/snaring