Thank you for contacting me about the use of snares.
I understand your concerns around the use of snares, which can, when used improperly, cause immense suffering to both target and non-target animals.
Snares are controlled in England and Wales under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This prohibits self-locking snares and the setting of snares in places where they are likely to catch certain non-target animals such as badgers.
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, taking or restraining such an animal.
My understanding of the law in relation to the use of snares is that 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 the Department continues to consider how snares are regulated as part of the Government’s drive to maintain its high animal welfare standards.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking