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Courier reporter changes mind about humane cable snares ban after visiting Perthshire gamekeeper

The Scottish government consultation, which closed in October, could lead to the prohibition of “humane cable restraints” through changes to the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill.

Land managers and gamekeepers have hit out against the prospective snares ban, so Courier reporter, Johanna Bremner, met one of them to find out why they need to use these snares in the first place.

Foxes can be prolific predators of gamebirds, ground nesting birds, small mammals and young livestock. Modern fox snares (also referred to as humane cable restraints) are designed to only catch and hold.

These modern designs correctly used exceed internationally recognised standards for restraining traps.

A strategically set snare will catch foxes at times and in locations when other methods of control either won’t work or are impractical – for instance, when the cover is too high to be able to see or shoot a fox or the presence of livestock makes it unsafe to use a rifle.

But snares have become a target from some activists and many gamekeepers across the country have faced intimidation and harassment as a consequence.

The Perthshire gamekeeper explained to the reporter some of the backlash they have faced. He explained: "It’s happened previously, when an estate in the area was mentioned [in the press] and their child was actually bullied in school because of it. So it’s yeah, it’s become a sad reality. You know, the image of the nasty gamekeeper…”

The gamekeeper went onto explain to the reporter the local importance of having the ability to use snares for predator control. He explained: “Predator control is a massive part of most sporting estates. We’ve got a lot of red listed species that thrive here and we’re quite proud of it. Without the predator control, and without the use of these [snares], it would almost be impossible. A lot of estates rely on them heavily, we rely on them heavily. Some estates will get 80-90% of their foxes in these, so if the government remove them, there will be a lot of foxes going around.”

The journalist, in a well thought out and balanced article, concluded: "I met Richard thinking I’d find the whole process of snaring disgusting and inhumane, but it really does seem like they take the necessary steps to limit the harm to the fox as much as possible."


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