Press release from the Scottish SPCA (8th April 2020)
Scottish SPCA appeals to trap and snare operators to fulfil welfare obligation
The Scottish SPCA has appealed for those who operate traps and snares to fulfil their legal welfare obligation of not causing unnecessary suffering to the animals caught in them.
Scotland’s animal welfare charity is offering to assist those who cannot leave their house due to current Government restrictions or if they are self-isolating.
Traps and snares can be set legally to control certain species but because of restriction of movement, they may now be illegal.
[Buzzard caught inside a crow trap. It’s not illegal to trap buzzards in these traps but it becomes illegal if the trap isn’t checked by the operator at least once every 24hrs and the buzzard released immediately upon discovery. Photo RSPB]
Scottish SPCA special investigations unit chief inspector, who cannot be named due to undercover operations, said:
“During the pandemic we understand that there is restricted movement and that people may be unwell or self-isolating.
Our concern is that those who may have set traps or snares may be in this situation and not able to get back to them within the legal timeframe of once every 24 hours. We have had evidence of creatures being confined for longer and dying of stress or starvation as a result of not being able to get free.
As the snares and traps will have not been checked within this timeframe, they will now be illegal and the person responsible for them will be breaking the law.
We are here to help anyone who finds themselves in these circumstances. People can contact us and let us know the whereabouts of the devices and we will attend and make them safe so that no animal will suffer.
We are willing to work with land managers and trap snare operators to ensure animal welfare law is being adhered to.
If anyone has any information relating to traps or snares they believe are not being checked, then this can be reported to us in confidence and we will investigate.
People can contact our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999 and we will do all we can to assist.”
The legal obligation to check a trap at least once within every 24hr period applies only to what are called ‘live catch’ traps, i.e. traps designed to hold the trapped animal, alive. This includes snares and traps such as Larsen and crow cage traps that use live decoys to attract other victims. In Scotland snare operators and crow cage trap operators now need to have unique identification codes placed on their equipment so the police can identify an individual trap user if it is suspected the trap is being used unlawfully and/or is unchecked.
There is no legal duty to check other types of traps that are designed to kill the trapped animal immediately (e.g. legally-set spring traps).