I am aware that laws are in place around the use of snares to protect wildlife: the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 states that it is illegal to set in position any trap or snare calculated to cause bodily injury to certain wild animals, including badgers, otters, red squirrels and hedgehogs.
The Deer Act 1991 makes it an offence to set in position any trap or snare calculated to cause bodily injury to any deer coming into contact with it, or to use any trap or snare for the purpose of killing or taking any deer. It is also illegal to set in position any trap or snare calculated to cause bodily injury to certain wild animals, or to use a snare for the purpose of killing, taking or restraining such an animal. Snares which have been set in position must be inspected once a day, the use of a self-locking snare is illegal and the Animal Welfare Act 2006 prohibits causing any unnecessary suffering to any animal.
While laws are in place, my ministerial colleagues recognise that there have been cases of snares being used indiscriminately and not being checked, and the code of practice not being followed. When used incorrectly, they can cause significant injuries and suffering to animals. Anyone using snares must act within the law to ensure that their activities do not harm protected species. I am assured that penalties are in place when the law is not followed, including an unlimited fine or a custodial sentence. Anyone who suspects that snares have not been used properly should contact the police.
Finally, officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are in regular contact with colleagues from the devolved administrations as Defra continues to consider how snares are regulated as part of the Government’s drive to maintain its high animal welfare standards.