UK’s leading mammal expert shows a ban on snaring is the only way to protect animals

Posted on the 2nd May 2022

The National Anti Snaring Campaign has commissioned a major review of all the available data ever produced on snaring. The review concludes that the only way to stop extremely high levels of non-target capture, illegal use and misuse of snares, address animal welfare concerns, and recognise that wild animals are sentient beings, is to prohibit the use of snares in the UK.

The report, by Professor Stephen Harris, entitled, “ Review of the use of Snares in the UK” follows the Action Plan for Animal Welfare in May 2021, which set out the Government’s plans, aims and ambitions across animal welfare, and included a commitment to launch a call for evidence on the use of snares. The Action Plan stated that “The government considers it timely to open this call for evidence to make sure it has the very latest understanding on this issue.”   As of 29 April 2022 DEFRA has yet to announce the promised “call for evidence on snaring,” saying only that it will happen in “due course.”

Professor Harris concludes, on page 61 of the report:

The use of snares in the UK does not meet acceptable standards of animal welfare or any of the principles for ethical wildlife control established by a committee of international experts. Some methods used to kill wild animals have such extreme effects on their welfare that, regardless of the potential benefits, their use is never justified: snaring is such a method. All the available data show that the only way to stop extremely high levels of non -target capture, illegal use and misuse of snares, address animal welfare concerns, and recognise that wild animals are sentient beings, is to prohibit the manufacture, sale, possession and use of snares in the UK .

His 69-page report makes uncomfortable reading and shows that little has changed in over 50 years of evidence, showing injury, death and non-target capture from free running snares.  The game shooting lobby has recognised the cruelty and indiscriminate nature of snaring, and so has created a “breakaway snare’’ designed to free non-target badgers caught in fox snares.

However new laboratory studies (see Notes for links) and (page 35 of the snare review) show that over 70 kilograms of force are required to break a weak link when the pulling replicates a badger’s neck, with the weight falling on a wire 2mm wide. Even this does not equate to the dynamic forces of a struggling animal, and consequently 69% of badgers do not escape and there is no data on the long-term survival of those badgers that do, having had to exert extreme force, usually with the wire wrapped around the soft tissue of their neck.

The report shows there has been a 64% decline in rabbit numbers since 1996 and fox numbers have fallen by 44% largely due to the decline in rabbits which were a staple of the foxes diet. Combining this with the move to intensive rearing of livestock and any argument that snaring is needed for the agricultural economy has long vanished.

Professor Stephen Harris worked at the University of Bristol for 40 years and was Professor of Environmental Sciences from 1992 until 2017. He is considered one of the country’s leading mammal experts.

  • The report can be viewed here.
  • The laboratory studies can be viewed here and here.

 

 

 

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