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Scottish ministers push ahead with ban on snares

Despite requests for a licence scheme to allow the use of humane cable restraints, Holyrood has confirmed it will legislate for a “full ban”.

Scottish environment minister Gillian Martin MSP confirmed the government will legislate for a “full ban on the use of snares” and would “not include a licensing scheme for any purpose”.

Ross Ewing, the director of moorland at Scottish Land & Estates who gave evidence at the hearing, suggested a licensing scheme could be set up so that humane cable restraints (HCRs) could still be used where there is no other method available to control creatures such as foxes.

HCRs are distinct from snares; in essence, they are a tethering device to hold an animal unharmed until it can be humanely despatched. Mr Ewing said this would be a “compromise approach that would ultimately enable HCRs to continue to be used under licence”.

However, only 24 hours after Mr Ewing and the GWCT gave evidence to the Rural Affairs and Islands Committee on the vital conservation need for the retention of HCRs under licence, the Scottish government announced its intention to implement a full ban.

This follows the Welsh government’s recent decision to prohibit the use of all forms of snares against the recommendations of land managers and in the face of scientific evidence. Ross Macleod, GWCT head of policy Scotland, who also gave evidence at the hearing, said: “The most alarming aspect of this decision is the apparent indifference to the GWCT science made available to the administration, which points to the critical role of predator control in supporting key species recovery and maintenance.”

By limiting the ability to flush foxes with dogs and removing the use of HCRs, the Scottish government has further depleted the toolbox available for controlling foxes in Scotland. Bird species such as golden plover, lapwing, capercaillie, curlew, meadow pipit, merlin, snipe and hen harriers are expected to suffer.

A spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association told ST: “If anyone watched any of the Holyrood evidence sessions, it was clear that the evidence lay with those, like ourselves, proposing to retain humane cable restraints.”

“Sadly, in Scottish politics today, there are many rural issues that have already been decided as a pact between Scottish government and their Green coalition partners so, even if proponents of HCRs had moved hell and earth, this position was not going to change.”