England must not fall behind on animal welfare
Posted 31st January 2023
Earlier this month, we took your message to Parliament that snares are cruel, indiscriminate and need to be banned. In a debate triggered by 100,000 strong petition launched by Animal Aid and backed by the League, politicians heard about their cruelty and the cost of inaction.
As you will know, snares are thin wire nooses often set by shooting estates to trap animals such as foxes or rabbits. They can cause terrible suffering and death to any animal unlucky enough to step into them, and almost three quarters of their victims aren’t even the intended target – catching badgers, hedgehogs and pets.
Thanks to your support, we were able to deliver information on the reality of snares to parliamentarians, making sure that MPs from across political divides spoke out against the current system which is outdated and ineffective.
Opening the debate, Nick Fletcher MP highlighted that snaring laws and regulations in England have not been reviewed in almost 19 years. Warm words and empty promises over the years, including a promised call for evidence on the issue in 2021, have failed to come to fruition. Many snares are still legal, leaving animals in England at risk of suffering from these cruel devices.
With the Welsh Government committed to banning snaring as part of the Agriculture (Wales) Bill, and the Scottish Government reviewing their own snaring laws with the potential for a ban north of the border too, England’s slow progress is a striking contrast.
While the UK government did not commit to a ban, the debate resulted in a pledge from environment minister Trudy Harrison to meet with the Welsh and Scottish governments to learn from their approach to snares. Positively, the Labour Party reiterated its commitment to ban snares and the Scottish National Party supported calls for them to be outlawed.
Ruth Jones MP, speaking for the Labour Party, reiterated the need for a ban on snares and strongly supported the action being taken by the Welsh Government. Jones also pointed out that the UK is one of just a handful of European countries which still tolerates the barbarity of snaring in our countryside. Rachael Maskell MP and Olivia Blake MP also echoed these calls from the opposition benches, both highlighted the unnecessary and indiscriminate cruelty of snaring.
Cruelty doesn't have to be the first and only option in the way that we manage our landscape and manage species that are special to us"
Olivia Blake, MP for Sheffield Hallam
Tracey Crouch, Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford, spoke passionately in favour of a ban on snares and highlighted that they do not have a place in a modern society that respects its natural environment and animals who inhabit it.
“There is no need for snares at all” – Tracey Crouch MP
Scottish MPs were also vocal in their support, with both independent MP Margaret Ferrier and SNP spokesperson Patricia Gibson highlighting the weakness of the current system of voluntary guidance. While pro-shooting groups have been keen to promote “humane” snares, the reality is that no such device exists. There is no such thing as a humane snare – they are all inherently cruel and discriminate.
We are clear – no amount of regulation or guidance can prevent animal suffering at the hands of snares. Snares are inherently cruel and inevitably indiscriminate. They must be banned.
The majority of speakers, including MPs from the three largest parties in Parliament, backed the campaign to ban snaring. This widespread support is indicative of the views of the public too – Survation polling commissioned by the League shows that 73 percent of the British public support a ban on the use of snares.
The debate shows the increasing importance of England not falling further behind on animal welfare by failing to ban snares. In the coming months we will use the commitments made, along with progress in the rest of the UK, to press the government to recognise the need to ban snares once and for all.