The ‘not guilty’ verdict in the recent Lochindorb hare snare trial (see here) has led to some interesting parliamentary questions being asked.
Libby Anderson (of OneKind) posted the following comment on the blog. It’s a good one so we’re reproducing it here (thanks, Libby!) –
“A disappointing verdict but – while unfortunately there is no written judgment available – it does sound as if the Sheriff took pains to make it clear that this case turned on its own facts and should not be seen as a precedent.
On the “indiscriminate” issue: It may have been stated in court that bycatch is rare – amazing considering the high non-target capture levels recorded in DEFRA’s report on snaring last year, based on “best practice” field trials. But indiscriminate capture surely also refers to capture WITHIN the target population. For example, how can a snare be set to ensure it doesn’t capture a pregnant or lactating female? (Bearing in mind this case dates from before the close seasons were introduced for hares.)
Snares are specifically prohibited for use on mountain hares under the Bern Convention. If a state decides to make an exception to this it must be for good reason, subject to appropriate conditions and returns must be submitted so that the state can report to the COE. Yes, a licensing scheme!
I don’t really understand why there isn’t a strict liability offence of using a snare for the relevant species without a licence. Surely it shouldn’t be left to individuals to decide what the law is about using non-selective traps for protected species? Are industry legal advisers able to judge the population status of a protected species?
RPS readers may be interested to see that Christine Grahame MSP [Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, SNP] has lodged some questions which ask the Scottish Gov to clarify current legal position:”
S4W-12780 Christine Grahame: To ask the Scottish Government how it ensures that it complies with the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats regarding the (a) use of non-selective traps to capture protected species and (b) the reporting requirements under article 9.2.
S4W-12781 Christine Grahame: To ask the Scottish Government what the legal basis is for the licensing regime operated by Scottish Natural Heritage regarding the use of snares to capture mountain hares.
S4W-12782 Christine Grahame: To ask the Scottish Government how many applications for species licences to use snares to capture mountain hares have been made since 2006; how many have been granted, and for what reasons licences were not granted.
The expected answer date is 28 Feb 2013 so we’ll post those when they’re available.
Mountain hare fans might be interested in Andy Howard’s fantastic photographs on his website Highland Nature Images (here).