I've been contacted recently by constituents asking me about my views on snaring. The welfare of wildlife – which includes snaring – is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
I confess that I'm not an expert on countryside management and my instincts are against the use of snares altogether, but I appreciate there may be a need for them in some limited situations in rural areas. I believe that if snares are to be used then there must be a strict protocol for them and the Scottish Government has done a lot of work in this area to reduce the misuse of snares. Anyone who wishes to set a snare must complete a training course by an approved body, once this is complete they get a unique identification number which goes on any snare they set. These measures are all designed to ensure that only responsible and trained persons set snares. Since 2010 snares must be firmly fixed to prevent them being dragged away and they must be checked every 24 hours. Regulations are also in place to prevent the use of snares which could strangle animals.
I understand that there will be offenders who will set snares illegally and I can assure you that the Scottish Government is keen to act against wildlife crime and among other measures, has taken action to put an end to the illegal poisoning and killing of birds of prey. Furthermore, they recently published a report by Professor Mark Poustie, an Environmental Law expert at Strathclyde University which you can read here: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/11/2196/downloads
Professor Poustie makes 10 recommendations including increases to the maximum available penalties, new sentencing guidelines and consolidation of wildlife legislation. The report concludes that penalties for wildlife crimes have fallen behind those for other types of environmental crime, and that fine levels for many of these crimes have not kept pace with inflation. The Scottish Government is considering these points and will announce how they intend to take this forward at a later date.
Whilst I am personally against the use of snares I am pleased that there are increasing measures to ensure they are being used responsibly until a feasible and practicable solution can be agreed on.