5. Impact of Legislation on Animal Welfare
The primary objective of the changes to snaring legislation was to better assure that practices were not causing unnecessary suffering. It is not within the scope of this review to assess whether that degree of suffering is acceptable. As such the discussion and assessment of the various sections with their associated prosecution rates provides a view as to the effectiveness of the legislation with regards animal welfare.
The TAG report ( Annex 3) comprehensively considered how welfare concerns could be addressed through further guidance incorporated into the Code of Practice or through regulation.
There are two recommendations which would require change to legislation which the Review Group highlight for consideration.
Fox snare stop position: In order to reduces the risk of constriction injury where large specimens of the target species are caught and to lessen welfare issues associated with accidental capture around body (target & non-target species), TAG proposed to increase the stop position on fox snares to enlarge noose size to 26cm.
Number of swivels on fox snare: To reduce the risk of entanglement, especially if a single swivel becomes locked, e.g. with vegetation, TAG proposed to increase the required number of swivels on a fox snare to two.
Section 11A(2)(c) of WCA  requires that snares intended to catch brown hares, rabbits and foxes must display a code to identify the target species. No such requirement applies to other potential target species, including mountain hares. Clarification is sought whether it is the intention of the legislation to prohibit the snaring of mountain hares.
It is SNH's view that snaring a mountain hare does require a specific licence on the basis that it could be considered 'indiscriminate', 'non-selective', or 'capable of causing local disappearance or serious disturbance to a population' of mountain hares (Reg. 41(2)(c) of the Habitats Regulations), and is therefore otherwise illegal unless licensed.
In addition concerns have been raised with SNH over the welfare impacts of snaring hares to the effect that it is difficult to advise on a method of snaring that does not cause unnecessary suffering - that they cannot be used effectively as a 'killing' trap because animals take too long to die and are not effective as a restraining means because there is too high a risk of killing or injury. The lack of any apparent means or guidance to avoid this means that SNH will not be minded to issue licences unless the contrary can be evidenced.
Email: John Gray