TV star Chris Packham hails snares ban proposal in Scotland as ‘excellent news’

The Springwatch presenter welcomed a consultation by the Scottish Government on banning the use of the devices.

Plans to ban the use of snares in Scotland have been hailed as “excellent news” by TV presenter and campaigner Chris Packham.

Packham, a leading conservationist, spoke out after the Scottish Government launched a new consultation, asking if an outright ban on the devices should be brought in, or if any exemptions could be considered.

Ministers are also seeking the public’s view on extending the investigative powers of the Scottish SPCA to help tackle wildlife crime, with proposals to give inspectors more authority to search, examine and seize evidence linked to illegal hunting and other offences.

The Scottish environment minister Gillian Martin said snare traps could “lead to unnecessary suffering for animals” with the proposed ban on their use “part of our ongoing efforts to ensure that wildlife management is both sustainable and humane”.

Environment minister Gillian Martin said snares could lead to ‘unnecessary suffering’ for animals (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ms Martin said: “Currently, only a small number of farmers and land managers use snare traps. More effective and humane forms of managing wildlife are available and we will continue to support the industry to make use of these methods.”

Packham, patron of the animal welfare charity OneKind, described the move as “excellent news, and a potential win for wildlife”.

He added: “These torture devices ought to have been banned a long time ago and I’m glad that the Scottish Government has finally recognised snares for the unacceptably cruel traps that they are.”

With the consultation in Scotland following on from a vote in the Senedd in Wales to ban the use of snares, he added: “The UK Government must not lag behind.”

OneKind director Bob Elliot said: “We are delighted that today the Scottish Government has finally announced their intention to consign snares to Scotland’s history books.

“The regulation of snares has failed to protect animals from the extreme physical and mental suffering caused by these archaic devices.

“Furthermore, 76% of the Scottish public support a snaring ban on the use and sale of snares. We are pleased that the Scottish Government has listened to the voices of Scotland’s people.”

Mr Elliot added: “By proposing a snaring ban, the Scottish Government is helping send a message that wild animals deserve protection.”

But he insisted: “Nothing short of a full ban will put an end to the suffering inflicted by snares.

“We urge the Scottish Government to make this ban watertight and not consider any exceptions to it.”

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said the society had “long called for an outright ban on the use of snares due to the level of suffering an animal is caused”.

Mr Flynn said: “Animals that are caught in snares can be caused unimaginable physical and mental anguish. Following reports from members of the public, we have found domestic animals, protected species and target animals that have all suffered dreadfully in both illegal and legal snares.

“A ban on all snaring is the only way to stop this unacceptable suffering. We are very pleased with the announcement of a ban, which will be a historic moment for animal welfare in Scotland.”

Gamekeepers said they too supported a ban, proposing that newer, more humane holding devices “which represent a step-change in animal welfare” should be used instead of snares.

Scottish Gamekeepers Association chairman Alex Hogg said it recommended these should be used by legally trained operators only.

He explained such devices  “contain added features which take account of fox welfare” and enable animals which are not the targets – such as badgers and deer – to “trigger a break-away” and free themselves.

While Mr Hogg said only a few estates have been using these, all those that have had “reported a step-change for welfare”.

He stated: “We feel these new devices strike exactly the right balance between animal welfare and the needs of land managers, in a rural country, to be able to legally control fox numbers to prevent serious damage to livestock and ground-nesting birds of special conservation concern.”

The Scottish Government consultation will run for six weeks until October 3.

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