Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) has reported that criminal damage to legally set snares and traps is on the rise. In its submission to Holyrood’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, SLE said it wanted the problem to be investigated and recorded in the annual report on wildlife crime: “There is an increasing group of wildlife crimes which as yet are not recorded in such a way as to be included in this report and we believe they should be. These concern interference with and damage to traps, cages and snares set legally by keepers and wildlife managers.

“There is an assumption among some animal rights enthusiasts that any such device is inhumane or illegal and they can break or move it with impunity. To do this is in fact criminal damage and runs the risk of making the device dangerous to other wildlife.”

Environment minister Paul Wheelhouse said that tampering with snares might also damage evidence of illegally set traps: “I think it’s very important that activists and others who might be considering tampering with material just don’t do it because we need to have clarity as to who was responsible for laying a trap.”

However, Mr Wheelhouse went on to say that he wasn’t convinced that animal rights activists were responsible: “To point the finger of blame at animal rights activists is unfair at this point. Until we have got evidence one way or another as to what is happening, it is conjecture on our part.”

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