Shooting estates – many of which will be celebrating the start of the driven grouse shooting season on Saturday, August 12th, are being propped up by the widespread and unnecessary slaughter of British wildlife, claims a new report.

The Problems of Snaring in the UK, and its Alternatives, produced by the League Against Cruel Sports, for the first time grades different methods of animal control in terms of how efficient, humane and conservation-friendly they are. Snares, the legal wire nooses which are used predominantly by shooting estates to ‘protect’ the birds they wish to shoot, finished equal bottom of the 16 methods, scoring Zero in all three areas.

Philippa King, Acting CEO of the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“Snares are medieval devices which inflict great suffering on huge numbers of animals, and we’ve been calling for them to be banned for a long time. Now we have the evidence which demolishes the shooting industry’s biggest argument in favour of them – that there is no alternative. That can no longer be an excuse – if animal control is required, there are several other methods which are more efficient, friendlier to the environment, and more humane.

“The UK is one of only a handful of European countries where snares are still allowed. We’re so far behind it’s getting embarrassing. It’s time for governments across the UK to ban snares and force the shooting industry to take their responsibilities seriously.”

The report into alternatives, researched by independent animal welfare consultant Dr Mark Kennedy, encourages the use of seven control methods, which are rated highly in the three areas:

  • Shepherding
  • Tree guards
  • ‘Novel’ disturbances, such as lights or noises
  • Guard animals
  • Habitat management
  • No control
  • Exclusion fencing

Other methods which rate less highly in each area, but would potentially be acceptable in certain cases if they were properly regulated, are:

  • Reproductive control
  • Cage traps
  • Shooting
  • Flushing to guns with two dogs (exempt hunting)

Methods which are clearly inhumane:

  • Ferreting
  • Poison
  • Gassing
  • Snares
  • Hunting (pre 2004 ban, or current illegal hunting with full pack)

Of these, poison, gassing and hunting are officially banned. Snaring and ferreting are the exceptions.

Cruel and indiscriminate

Snares have been widely condemned by animal welfare organisations because of their indiscriminate nature, which can lead to potentially hundreds of thousands of animals being caught and potentially killed each year, including foxes, badgers, hares, deer and pet cats and dogs.

Defra uses the 1998 Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) as a benchmark against which to evaluate the humaneness of the use of snares. However, it can be argued that the assessment and acceptable standards of animal welfare have progressed far beyond the rudimentary indicators and standards in the AIHTS.

Snares are predominantly used on land where ‘game-bird’ shooting takes place, for example in upland areas in England, snares are used on 27% of landholdings which host shooting, compared to 0.1% of landholdings which do not. In 2015 the League commissioned a survey of major landowners in England and Wales to find out which types of wildlife management they carry out. 94% percent of respondents said they do not allow any snaring on land they own or manage.

Philippa King added:

“While snaring as a method of animal control should be banned, ultimately as a country we need to put an end to the sickening ‘sport’ of using live birds for target practice. The public were outraged last week when a trophy hunting channel was launched in the UK. Trophy hunters kill animals for sport, and justify it – falsely – by claiming the sport benefits local communities and the environment. This week, the grouse shooting industry is claiming that their sport benefits local communities and the environment. The arguments are the same, the killing is the same, our determination to stop it should be the same.”

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For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email

Notes to Editors

  • An executive summary and the full report, The Problems of Snaring in the UK, and its alternatives are available on request
  • The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).