A ROW has erupted over what definition of “snare” will be used by the Scottish Government as it proposes a ban on the devices, with a charity warning ministers not to be “hoodwinked”.

The Scottish Government has just ended a consultation on the use of snares as part of its legislative scrutiny of the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill.

The bill seeks to ban the use of snares in Scotland as it believes the evidence shows they “can lead to unacceptable levels of suffering for wild animals”.

However, 150 land managers have signed a letter to the Scottish Government asking that “humane cable restraints” not be caught up in the snare ban.

Animal rights charity The League Against Cruel Sports Scotland (LACSS) alleges there is little difference between traditional snares and humane cable restraints and that both should be banned.

Robbie Marsland, the director of LACSS, told The National that a ban on snares would be pointless if humane cable restraints were not included.

He said: “The League has campaigned for many years for a complete ban on the use of snares. These cruel, indiscriminate traps cause needless suffering to tens of thousands of animals year on year in the Scottish countryside.

“We are closer than we have ever been to a ban yet we have serious concerns that a ban could be absolutely pointless if the use of ‘humane’ cable restraints is allowed.

“‘Humane‘ cable restraints are exactly the same as snares - the only difference is the name.

“Surely the Scottish Government can see this is nothing more than a ploy by those who want to continue using snares to rebrand these cruel traps to try and justify their continued use.”

The charity is calling on people to write to Environment Minister Gillian Martin warning her against being “hoodwinked”.

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However, Ross Ewing, director of moorland at rural business organisation Scottish Land and Estates, told The National that there were many differences between the device and that describing them as identical “mischaracterises the situation”.

He said: “There’s three main characteristics that differentiate humane cable restraints from traditional snares.

“The first is that you’ve got a fixed stop placed at 26 centimetres instead of 23, which basically safeguards against strangulation of any sort.

“The second is that it has two swivels: one at the base and one at the main point.

“That allows free movement and stops the snare from getting tangled in itself, which is not something associated with traditional snares.

“But the most important difference to stress is the breakaway component, which means that if you capture a non-target species – for example, a badger – it will be able to breakthrough that point and escape as it has more power than a fox.”

The National: The Scottish Government believes snares can cause unnecessary suffering to wild animalsThe Scottish Government believes snares can cause unnecessary suffering to wild animals (Image: League Against Cruel Sports)

He added that humane cable restraints met international humane trapping standards which, on paper, put them on par with live-capture traps.

Land managers in Scotland can currently use snares to control the number of predators in a certain area, particularly foxes.

But Ewing said that live capture traps, which the Scottish Government proposes as an alternative to snares alongside shooting, were not effective.

He added that claims of the rural workers attempting to “hoodwink” ministers were unhelpful.

“I think the kind of language being used ultimately leads to polarisation of debate,” he said.

“If people are unconvinced of humane cable restraints, their utility and the differences between them and traditional snares we urge them to come talk to us.

“We’re willing to make the difference plain to see.”