Scottish snares crackdown vital to save animals across country

The Scottish Government has begun a public consultation that is expected to ban the use of snares, which trap animals using a thin wire loop. The Scottish SPCA’s Special ­Investigation Unit, which has brought some of the ­country’s worst animal abusers to justice, has welcomed the move.

Since 2019, the charity has recorded 41 incidents of animals caught in snares and 14 of those involved domestic pets. SSPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said the proposed snare ban and moves to grant new investigatory powers to his team were long overdue.

He said: “This debate has been going on since 2010 and we’ve been through five Scottish Government ministers to get to this point. The government’s SSPCA ­taskforce has made clear there is a strong case for additional powers and we hope the public consultation backs that up.”

Flynn says currently his teams can only take action if an animal is in distress.

He said: “At present we can act when we find an animal actively suffering in a snare but if our inspectors saw several other snares around the ­location we’d be powerless. We would have to walk away, as the parties who set the snares would be able to say they were set legitimately and that there had been no intention to break the law.

“The extra powers we are seeking would allow us to take action if we find other potential crimes in the same location. And an outright ban on snares would make the ­prosecution of those abusing them far more straightforward.

“We would undoubtedly be in a situation where many animals could be spared a long and lingering death – which could involve badgers, foxes, deer and domestic pets, of which we have seen many examples over the years.”

Flynn stressed Police ­Scotland would retain primacy over investigation of wildlife cases.

The consultation – which ends on October 3 – is also asking for opinions on giving SSPCA teams more authority to seize evidence related to incidents of illegal hunting and other offences.