Move to end barbaric practice applauded
An animal protection charity has welcomed a decision by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) which will effectively end snaring of mountain hares.
OneKind said that a ban on the manufacture, sale, possession and use of all snares is the only way to end the unnecessary suffering caused by the traps.
Mountain hares were once routinely snared on estates across the Scottish Highlands, but this week, SNH has finally confirmed that it is no longer issuing licences following a review.
The animals are protected for less than half the year in Scotland – the closed season - during which they can only be killed under licence.
Outside of this period, they can be shot freely for sport and are also killed as part of large-scale culls. Culling takes place throughout the country - usually to protect grouse moor and forestry interests.
Last month campaigners reacted angrily after a truckload of dead mountain hares was spotted in the Highlands before the end of the culling season.
The only official estimate found that 24,529 mountain hares were killed in one year back in 2006/7, 10 times more than the number of badgers killed in England’s badger culls in 2015.
The findings of the review stated: “Concerns have been raised with SNH over the welfare impacts of snaring hares to the effect that it is difficult to advise on a method of snaring that does not cause unnecessary suffering – that they cannot be used effectively as a killing trap because animals take too long to die and are not effective as a restraining means because there is too high a risk of killing or injury.
“The lack of any apparent means or guidance to avoid this means that SNH will not be minded to issue licences unless the contrary can be evidenced.”
The decision was made known as part of a wider review of the impact of snaring regulations introduced under the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011.
OneKind Director Harry Huyton said: “This decision is hugely significant because it effectively sets an ‘unnecessary suffering’ test for wildlife management practices. We would like to see this approach applied to snaring other wild animals as well as other controversial and common traps that are used throughout Scotland. In terms of animal welfare, there is no difference between a mountain hare suffering in a snare and a fox suffering in a snare.”
He added: “This week’s report appears to be the final nail in the coffin for this cruel practice, as far as mountain hares are concerned - but just as important is the precedent it sets.”