On Thursday 18th May, MSPs debated the issue of snaring – in particular, the recent Scottish National Heritage (SNH) Review of Snaring for the Scottish Government – as required by the current legislation.

The Scottish Parliament last debated the use of snares during the passage of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 – which decided not to ban the traps but to introduce a new regulatory regime, to be reviewed every five years.

Animal welfare organisations and politicians from all parties except the Conservatives have expressed their disappointment at the limited scope of the first review, which excluded any consideration of an outright ban on snares, and did not focus on animal welfare issues.

In contrast, a joint ‘Snare Free Scotland’ report by leading animal welfare organisations, the League Against Cruel Sports and OneKind, has made clear that regardless of any future tweaks to the legislation, snares will continue to be cruel and indiscriminate. The report sets out horrifying examples of the agonising pain and deaths experienced by animals trapped by snares – both target species, such as foxes, and non-target species, including Scottish wildcats, mountain hares, badgers, hedgehogs, deer, otters, and even family pets.

Ruth Maguire MSP is a strong proponent of animal welfare in the Scottish Parliament – she has been consistently and strongly opposed to fox-hunting, and last year hosted an event in Parliament together with the League Against Cruel Sports to raise awareness around it. She is also the current MSP Species Champion for the hedgehog, and has spoken out against illegal puppy trafficking.

Speaking in Thursday’s snaring debate, Ruth said:

“Snares are indiscriminate and cruel – resulting in agonising suffering and death for both those animals that they intend to trap and those that are trapped unintentionally – including protected species.

No amount of enhanced regulation or subsequent reviews can change this. Some things are just wrong.

For this reason, I share the disappointment of the motion and of animal welfare organisations that the SNH review did not even consider the option of an outright ban.

Rather, the review somewhat side-steps the animal welfare and suffering aspect of snaring– stating that ‘the primary objective of the changes to snaring legislation was to better assure that practices were not causing unnecessary suffering. It is not within the scope of this review to assess whether that degree of suffering is acceptable.’

It may not have been within the scope of the review to address that question, but for me personally, and for the scores of constituents who contact me on this issue, the suffering caused by snares is absolutely unacceptable.”