SnareWatch has been created by the animal welfare charity OneKind to collect information about snare use in the UK, and the animal welfare problems caused by these traps.
We believe that snares should be banned in the UK. To progress towards that goal, we are gathering information about the nature and extent of snaring, and whether current legislation is working to protect animals as it should.
Although we believe that snares cannot be used without causing significant animal suffering, many people, including some politicians, believe that they are necessary and – if not entirely humane – then perhaps “the least inhumane” option available. All the evidence we have gathered indicates that that is simply wrong.
There has been very little independent assessment of the extent of snare use and the prevalence and nature of animal suffering. OneKind published research in 2010, and the UK environment department DEFRA published a report into The Extent of Use and Humaneness of Snaring in England and Wales in March 2012. Regrettably, while clearly demonstrating that animals suffered in snares, that snares were indiscriminate and that there was poor compliance with existing codes of practice, the report shied away from drawing sound conclusions on welfare.
OneKind believes that every animal is an individual and if any animal suffers, that matters. To get a more accurate picture of the effect of snaring on the welfare of animals, we need real reports about real incidents, throughout the UK.
Please help SnareWatch to gather this information by sending us a report of any snare that causes you concern.
What is a snare?
Snares are very ancient traps, originally used in the Stone Age. Today, snares remain prevalent around world, used in subsistence and commercial hunting (including the fur trade), poaching (including the bush meat trade), recreational bushcraft, population control, predator and pest species control and occasionally in research.
The modern snare, as used in the UK, is an anchored noose of steel cable (for foxes and hares) or stranded brass wire (for rabbits). It is positioned so that when the animal runs into it, it becomes caught around the neck, although capture around the abdomen or leg is also common. The noose tightens so that the animal cannot escape from it, either by going backwards or forwards. Nowadays most snares have stops on them, so that they should not be able to tighten to a circumference less than the target animal’s neck - although that makes little difference when an animal is captured around the body, or upper leg.
Although snares in the UK are supposed to restrain, rather than kill, the captured animal, in reality the animal’s struggles often cause the wire to twist and tighten, becoming effectively self-locking and leading to strangulation or severe injuries. Sites where animals have been caught in snares tend to show signs of extreme disturbance to the surrounding ground and vegetation – known as a “doughnut” – where the animal has tried to run, jump or scrabble its way out of the trap, often for a period of several hours or more.
Snares are commonly set in walls of branches, so that animals are guided into the space where the snare has been set. These branches can become tangled in the snare and increase the likelihood of suspension or strangulation. Snares are also often set around piles of rotting carcasses known as “stink pits” to attract animals into the area.
Although snares are set for specific target species, anecdotal and scientific evidence indicates that in practice they are indiscriminate. In 2005, the report of the UK Independent Working Group on Snaring (IWGS) set the proportion of non‐target captures between 21% and 69% in the UK. Snares commonly catch other wild animals including: protected badgers, otters and wildcats; deer, cattle and sheep; and even pet cats and dogs. The DEFRA report recorded that 60% of users interviewed said they had caught a non-target animal at some time and, in field trials, the non-target capture rate was up to 68% in one trial.
More information on snares can be found in the OneKind guide to hunting, trapping and wildlife persecution in Scotland.