The long-running (since 2009!!) hare snare case continues today at Inverness Sheriff Court.
Two gamekeepers from the Lochindorb Estate were alleged to have set illegal snares to catch mountain hares. Both men had denied the charges and part-way through the trial the charges against one of the gamekeepers were dropped.
This is seen as an important test case to determine whether it is legal to use an “indiscriminate trap” (in this case, does a snare constitute an indiscriminate trap?) to kill mountain hares unless the operator has a specific SNH licence to do so. The outcome of this trial could have far-reaching implications for the way our uplands are managed.
Previous blog entries on this case here, here, here, here, here.
14 thoughts on “Hare snare trial continues today”
More hares, more food for eagles [and harriers and buzzards] – less grouse get eaten..simples?..Too simples for some?!!
It beats me how anyone can argue that these primitive traps are not indiscriminate. First there’s the appallingly high rate of non-target capture – up to 69% in some circumstances according to the Independent Working Group on Snaring. Even the recent DEFRA report (which did its best to justify snare use) recorded that 60% of users surveyed had caught non-target species. The OneKind SnareWatch site records a litany of cats and badgers snared across the UK.
And then within the target species snares indiscriminately trap old, young, pregnant, lactating individuals, with inevitable effects on the local population – a point that I hope was brought out in court.
Successive administrations have thought it necessary to license snares for mountain hares, in order to comply with the Bern Convention and Habitats Directive. In 2006 the Scottish Government stopped issuing licences due to concern about the status of the mountain hare population.
Let us hope the sheriff will find it’s not for gamekeepers to decide what the law is, in defiance of established government licensing regimes.
Is it not time that there was a National Landscape Management Plan setting out in plain terms, without get-out-of-jail legal niceties, that perpetrators can use to get off when they have broken what should be stringent laws governing how wildlife is treated? Snaring is endemic in our countryside, and is indiscriminate, as many non-target animals have been caught in them. The gamekeeper has been given too much power over what lives and dies, and if a threat to the productivity of the “industrial killing” of game birds, then the “vermin” species have to die. A majority of people in the UK now insist on the humane killing of animals, and snaring has become repulsive. If the game bird industry is to continue dominating our countryside, then it has to accept the new boundaries in which they can act, and to reset the mindset of their agents, the gamekeepers, to desist from setting snares and traps. How long does Scotland have to have this mass slaughter industry offending the progressive and humane majority, who now challenge this hierarchy with old boy networks stretching into government, the courts and anywhere it needs to go to ensure its existence, and its tight grip on the land?
You talk about the public demanding the humane killing of animals and state that snaring is repulsive. The glaring point your missing is snares are not capable or designed to kill they are merely a holding device do any target species can be humanely dispatches and non targets can be released. The recent tightening up of snaring legislation has increased the length of the stop and made daily record keeping mandatory so the chances of flaunting the legislation and getting off with it are greatly reduced.
Thats right …the snare provides a resful experience for the trapped animal. Its very gentle, causes no stress, there is no risk of the trapped animal coming to any harm until the kind fairy come along and sooths it off into the land of dreams.
Aye right! Snares regularly kill and mame…simply because they cant not anticipate the range of species that ight be caught and there are so many other variables out there.
But at least you admit they do not discriminate between target and non-target species.
Groseman, snares are merely a holding device? Well, here is a recent quote from a senior SGA member teaching a course to keepers on the new snaring law. He is talking about setting up branches and brash either side of the snare to funnel in the animal to the trap at a stink pit location; “Stink pits come in various disguises. You can use brash for your stink pit. If you are putting brash in you should put it in like this, so when the fox gets snared and he thrashes all about the brash will just fall down”.
Here we have an admission by a senior SGA member and very experienced game keeper that indeed a trapped fox will “thrash all about” when caught in a snare and not just sit there like a dog on a lead, which some would like us to believe.
So Groseman, please do tell us what you base your facts on and why it is you have come to believe that a snare is “merely a holding device”, because Onekind bases its facts on the evidence that it collects and believe me, our facts show that snares are anything but “merely a holding device”. Our evidence is extensive and includes the most disturbing images of badgers and other animals in snares, alive and dead (Please visit our ‘SnareWatch’ site for a sample of images and further information on these crude and outdated devices).
With the badgers, all had been caught in these “holding devices” from between two to five days and all had dug circular trenches into the earth in a desperate bid to escape. Imagine the suffering and mental stress of each of those animals, starving and unable to escape back to their setts as the wire slowly cut into their flesh, whilst the days and nights came and went. They were later euthanised, including the one that was picked up with a grasp, after having the wire cut away from around its body, only for its guts to fall out onto the ground from the hole in its stomach that the wire had made.
Imagine also the suffering of all those animals I have found dead in snares, all of which had either died from strangulation or had died a slow and lingering death from starvation, not to mention the threat of attack from predators whilst they were still alive. Also, as there is no snare closed season, let us not forget the situation of the dependant young that will suffer a painful and slow death when their parents are taken by these snares. It isn’t only foxes, badgers, rabbits, deer or hares that are found suffering or dead in these traps. Every year Onekind hears from people who have lost their pet dog or cat to a snare, like the Jack Russell which ran off the path and into woodland, only to be found forty minutes later by his owner dead in a legal snare. The dog had bitten off its own tongue as the snare had choked him and like many of these snares that maim and kill, this was a legal snare.
It isn’t unusual to discover an estate where hundreds of fox snares have been set, often in remote woodland and it is clear by the number of snares and their location that somebody would have to be employed full time to be able to get around every single one of those snares and check them every day as the law requires. However, even if snares were checked within the twenty four hour period as required, the evidence suggests that this is still far too long for a wild animal to be caught in a wire noose and there is a real chance of serious injury or death occurring within this period.
Simply, this very crude device has no place in a progressive society and it must be banned as soon as possible to save any more animals from suffering. There is absolutely no justification for allowing such a method of capture to continue and Onekind will continue to do everything in its power to see these snares gone from our countryside once and for all.
Any right minded person could not fail to consider snaring to be anything other that repulsive and those that do or sanction it would need to very cruel individuals. Even where a snare does not eventually kill an animal it is bound to cause immense distress and probably thrash about resulting in physical injury.
I do not see how much improvement can be expected from the law change. Can we actually trust those who snare to obey the law? Not likely to be much done in the way of checking or law enforcement.
I shall never forgive Michael Russell for not outlawing them when he had a chance The vast majority of the public would have been behind him. However money and power are obviously more important.
We should carefully examine every snare that is found when we are out and about to ensure that it is at least “legal”.
Circus maxima, yes do look carefully at snares but don’t touch them or you will be accused of interfering with property! Fortunately (up to a point) the new tagging legislation is just passing through the Scottish Parliament and from April it will be easy to see at a glance whether the operator has complied with the training and ID requirements.
PLEASE report any concerns about snares to SnareWatch http://www.snarewatch.org as it will help us to make the case for an early review of this legislation.
Sorry to get so off the subject of raptors, but in a good cause.
Re your last sentence Libby..dont worry, its all the same subject – a contempt for Wildlife Law and a contempt for the suffering and existence of any wildlife they dont like…
Any chance of a brief as to what we should be looking out for.
If an “irregular/illegal” snare is discovered would the SSPCA be the best first port of call ?
Oh well, since you ask! You can call the police for illegal snares – but if there is a live animal in it the SSPCA is more likely to be able to help quickly.
Re legal/illegal snares:
All snares must be free-running – self-locking are illegal in the UK. Self-locking snare may be manufactured – by reversing the lock on the cable so that it can only tighten – or may have become self-locking simply because the wire has got twisted and kinked.
In Scotland all snares must now have a stop on them, so that the noose cannot close to a circumference less than 23 centimetres for a fox or 13 centimetres for any other animal.
Snares must be fixed to the ground – drag snares are prohibited.
Snares must not be set where the animal is likely to become suspended (for example, by jumping over a fence and being left to hang there), or close to water where it is likely to drown.
Anyone setting a snare must inspect it (or cause it to be inspected), at least once every day at intervals of no more than 24 hours to see whether an animal is caught in it and to ensure that it is free-running.
Any captured animal must be released or removed, regardless of whether it is alive or dead.
Snares may only be set with the landowner’s or occupier’s permission.
As of next April (I think) each snare must carry a tag bearing an identification number allocated to its owner – who must be trained in order to receive the number from the police. The tag must show initials BH, R or F to show whether it is set for brown hares, rabbits or foxes. NB the new Order doesn’t suggest MH for mountain hare, can one assume that would be illegal …?
That’s about it I think, no doubt Steve will chip in if I’ve forgotten anything.
Excellent responses from Libby and Steve. The majority of visitors to this site are 100% behind your attempts to get these indiscriminate traps outlawed, however I have a feeling that there are one or two folks on here that will simply choose to ignore the facts you offer. Through their pathetic attempts to curry favour with the general public, the gamekeeping industry and all its followers have told so many lies over the years that they now believe all the nonsense they spout. Keep up the good work.
I know it is illegal to tamper with a set snare, but what happens if you just happen to put your foot through the trap and you fall to the ground? Would the landowner be responsible for any injuries caused? And as a result of being trapped, surely you would have to tamper with said device to free yourself? Now I am not condoning illegal practices, but I’m sure there are some very clumsy individuals out there that could be easily tripped up many times throughout the course of a walk.