Gamekeepers have warned that vital fox control activities could be severely impaired after a Scottish Government minister said that a ban on snaring was being considered.

The announcement that the Scottish Government would consider the option of a ban on snaring came in response to a question from Labour’s Colin Smyth MSP. The regional list member for the South of Scotland asked Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform Mairi McAllan about whether the soon to be published review on snaring in Scotland would consider animal welfare issues.

In response, the minister said: “I have made clear that when the rules on snaring – which, in Scotland, are currently the tightest in the UK – are reviewed at the end of this year … I will see that the scope of that is extended to include a potential ban on snaring.”

The news was met with alarm from countryside group BASC. Scotland Director, Dr Colin Shedden, said: “Snaring is a vitally important predator management tool that enables land managers to protect livestock, gamebirds and ground nesting birds from predation by foxes where other methods of control are not viable. A statutory ban on snares would be disastrous for land managers, who are already nervous about further restrictions to fox control that are due to be considered by the Scottish Parliament.”

News that the Scottish Government would consider a ban on snaring came as little surprise to watchers of Scottish rural politics.

One Scottish gamekeeper commented to Shooting Times “It’s not really surprising, the Scottish Government has been looking for anything it can do to make shooting and gamekeeping more difficult.”

Nature Scot, Scotland’s nature conservation agency, are due to publish a report on snaring at the end of this year and this report will heavily influence government policy. Shooting Times understands that if the Scottish Government does choose to go down the route of banning snaring then a ban will be included in the ‘Fox Control Bill’ which will go before parliament next year.