Self-locking snares have been banned since 1981, but free-running snares are permitted as a form of wildlife management because, when used properly, they are effective and humane. Animals held in these snares are protected from unnecessary suffering under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 imposes a legal obligation to check a set snare at least every 24 hours.
In 2015 the revised Welsh Code of Practice on snaring was approved by a wide range of stakeholders, including animal welfare organisations, on the basis of research commissioned by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). This Code, published in September 2015, will improve animal welfare standards and reduce the inadvertent capture of non-target species. I believe it balances the needs for the prevention of inhumane treatment of animals with the requirements of pest control.
Defra have held constructive meetings with a number of stakeholders to make similar improvements to the existing Code of Practice in England and will make an announcement on this in due course. I hope all those with an interest in snares will contribute to this work so that the use of snares in England is conducted according to best practice and the highest welfare standards.
I believe a revised Code of Practice, rather than more legislation, is the most sensible approach to balancing genuine welfare concerns with the need for wildlife management.
I completely understand the strength of feeling over snares when they are used irresponsibly, illegally and inhumanely, causing unnecessary suffering and firmly believe that this must be stamped out.