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Badgers, deer and hares – the innocent victims of fox snares

23/01/2012 19:28:06

Charities call for an outright ban in Scotland

January 2012: Badgers, deer, pheasants and even a dog have been the unlucky victims of fox field snaring according to government data.

VICTIM: A badger is caught in a snare – for many 
animals it can cause a slow and painful death

Now Animal charities OneKind and the League Against Cruel Sports are urging DEFRA to publish a long-delayed report into the extent of use and humaneness of snares in England and Wales. The interim data, obtained by OneKind from DEFRA under a Freedom of Information request, appears to show a high proportion of the animals trapped in field trials were non-target species.

Only 17 out of 62 animals snared were foxes
Sixty-two animals were snared in field trials - yet only 17 of the animals were foxes. Also trapped were 20 hares, 16 badgers, three deer, two pheasants and a dog. Twenty-six animals (24 rabbits and two foxes) were snared in pen trials, where one rabbit died and the remaining animals were euthanized for examination.

While this research applies only to England and Wales, the two charities want it to be made available to the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament, which is considering a petition by the League, OneKind and a number of other animal welfare organisations, calling for an outright ban on snaring in Scotland.

After an initial request for information about the research in November 2010, the committee were assured that the fieldwork was complete and the final report was being written and would be published in 2011.

'We believe snaring is completely indiscriminate'
An 11,000-strong petition was submitted to the Scottish Parliament in December last year, and the charities have now asked the Public Petitions Committee (PPC) to press DEFRA again on a firm release date for the full report.

Libby Anderson, acting chief executive of OneKind, said: ‘We are wary about jumping to conclusions about this data without access to all the information, but these interim figures do give us cause for concern.

‘We need to clarify if these results are an anomaly or if they indicate, as we believe, that snaring is completely indiscriminate and puts at risk the lives of protected species and other animals.

‘Given the time that has already passed to complete this report, and that the fieldwork was completed and some data available we have asked the committee to seek a commitment from DEFRA on when the full report will be made available.'
Responding to a request from the PPC, the Scottish Government has indicated that it would be a further year before key animal welfare elements of the Bill would be in operation.

75 per cent of Scotland's vets think snaring should be banned
Louise Robertson, acting head of campaigns and communications at the League, added: ‘We are concerned that important provisions regarding the identification of snares and a training programme for operators are unlikely to come into effect until 2013.

‘While we have expressed concern about the lack of animal welfare content in the training programme, there has already been activity within the industry to deliver training and we do not understand why there is a delay. We have asked for further clarification on this matter.'

Snares are wire nooses intended to catch foxes and rabbits but also catch other wild animals including protected species such as badgers, otters and wildcats, farmed animals and even pet cats and dogs. Although designed to immobilise their targets, snares can inflict horrendous injury and in many cases cause an agonising death.

An independent opinion poll carried out in 2010 for OneKind found that 77 per cent of people in Scotland thought snaring should be illegal; and a joint survey carried out by OneKind and the League in 2008 found that 75 per cent of Scotland's vets believed snaring should end.

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