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The Case for Snares (i.e. the view of Gamekeepers and hunting supporters)

The Game Conservancy Trust

Dr Mike Swan, Head of Education with The Game Conservancy Trust, an independent wildlife conservation charity which researches game and associated species and habitats. Mr Swan has been called as an independent expert witness in a number of court cases involving snares

Swan believes that snares are a humane way of catching foxes. The Game Conservancy Trust say they have done a lot of research into foxes and when they need to catch them for radio tracking studies they use snares.

They went to Germany to examine the way they catch predatory mammals. They told us that, although snares are illegal there, they use them under licence for any research that involves catching foxes and releasing them unharmed.

They say that modern snares are designed with a stop so that when an animal is caught, the loop stops tightening and the creature is not throttled. They say that the role of the snare is to hold the target animal fast without harming it.

Many people mistakenly believe that snares are designed to kill the animal by strangulation.

When a gamekeeper has caught the predatory animal which he is targeting he can remove it and kill it humanely, but non-targets can be released unharmed.

Swan uses free-running snares in game management projects in which he is involved and he feels that, used correctly and checked regularly, they are a very effective and humane method of predator control with minimum risk to other wildlife.

The Gamekeepers' View

Charles Nodder, national spokesman for the National Gamekeepers' Organisation which advocates the use of snares as an effective way of tackling the problems caused by foxes in particular

The National Gamekeepers' Organisation say that country people know that fox numbers have to be kept under control. They are what scientists call generalist predators, in other words, they take whatever is going and they often kill more than they need to eat. Foxes are recognised as pests in the Agriculture Act. They say their increasing numbers have been partly responsible for the decline in wild birds such as red grouse, grey partridge, lapwings and stone curlews.

No gamekeeper wants to kill every last fox, but they say they have to keep their numbers in check. The control techniques available to gamekeepers have now become restricted to the point where only two realistic options remain - shooting and snaring.

Shooting is effective and humane where a rifle can be used safely, but it can take many nights of waiting up to see, let alone get a safe shot at, a marauding fox.

Snares, on the other hand, are working for the gamekeeper 24 hours a day. The fox snare is a free-running wire loop set in a known fox run and designed to catch and hold the fox unharmed.

Scientists use snares to catch foxes so they can put radios on them, even scientists paid by the main anti-hunting organisations. The gamekeeper must inspect his snares by law every day, although many do so more often. If he finds a captive fox, he will shoot it.

Because the snare is a holding device, animals caught accidentally can be released unharmed. Snares set inexpertly do very occasionally harm the animals that they catch, and it is easy for opponents to create horror stories out of such isolated incidents. But all means of pest control have their down sides - none is ideal.

The important thing is that they are used only when and where necessary and by experts. Gamekeepers know that they need snares and they know how to use them properly.

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