Wildlife campaigners demand an end to snares as the grouse-killing season begins

Woman with dog holds dead grouse during a shoot in Cumbria
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Campaigners for wildlife are calling on the government to ban the use of snares in the UK. The demand comes on the first day of the grouse shooting season, also known as the Glorious Twelfth.

Snares are indiscriminately cruel

The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) is calling on Westminster to ban the use of snares by gamekeepers. Snares are specially designed loops of wire that gamekeepers use to trap animals. Snares are usually intended to catch foxes, but research has shown that up to 70% of creatures caught in the devices are so-called ‘non-target species’. They include badgers, hares, deer, dogs, cats and even lambs.

Wales banned the devices in June, making it the first part of the UK to do so. Scotland is considering a similar course of action as part of its Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill. However, as the Canary previously reported, Westminster has pretty much laughed in the face of the idea.

Nonetheless, polling commissioned by LACS revealed that there’s widespread support for a ban on snare use. A survey conducted in June 2020 showed 73% of people in the UK want snares banned. As a result, the head of public affairs at the charity – Will Morton – said:

It’s time for change and for the UK Government to emulate the Welsh Government and implement a ban on these cruel animal traps, a move which would be welcomed by the majority of the public.

Millions of snares set each year

Grouse shooting estates are no exception to snare use. Exactly how many snares are set each year is unknown, as gamekeepers are not obliged to report such numbers. However, LACS Scotland estimated in 2020 that about 57,000 similar devices were deployed each day during the grouse shooting season.

12 August marks the beginning of the grouse shooting season across the UK. That’s why LACS is demanding an end to snares now. Morton said:

Read on...

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The grouse shooting industry litters the nation’s moorland with deadly snares which cause so much suffering to our wildlife.

It would be a popular animal welfare measure to ban snares and end the cruelty caused by these barbaric devices – like landmines they kill and maim indiscriminately.

Other organisations have made similar statements. Anti-hunting and shooting organisation Protect the Wild said:

There is nothing remotely ‘glorious’ about August 12th. It’s a date which is synonymous with killing birds and mammals on a vast scale.

As well as the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Red Grouse, untold numbers of animals are killed in snares and traps, and the whole sad and sorry industry is underpinned by wildlife crime.

And animal rights organisation Animal Aid has said:

Grouse moors are often intensively managed in order to boost populations of grouse ahead of the shooting season. The killing of birds of prey has also been linked to some grouse moors, as well as the permitted persecution of other wild animals through the use of traps and snares.

Ecologically damaging

LACS also highlighted other harms grouse shooting inflicts on the countryside. It said other issues include the illegal persecution of raptors (birds of prey) as well as the controversial practice of burning heather, which releases greenhouse gas emissions.

Morton summed up well by saying:

The grouse shooting industry can no longer justify the cruelty it inflicts on wildlife and the damage it causes to the environment, simply so it can blast hundreds of thousands of grouse out of the sky every year.

Featured image via FieldsportsChannel TV/Flickr

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