A SHOOTING organisation has launched a last ditch attempt to keep the use of snares legal in Scotland.

The Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill is due to go before MSPs for its third stage vote in Holyrood next week.

As well introducing a licencing scheme for grouse shooting and muirburn, the bill would also ban the use of snares over the “unacceptable levels of suffering” they cause to animals such as foxes.

However, the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has written a letter to Rural Affairs Minister Jim Fairlie pleading for last minute changes to be made to the bill.

The letter calls for the planned ban on snares to be abandoned, saying the use of “humane cable restraints” should be allowed with a licence, and for the scrapping of proposals to extend the list of gamebirds which require a shoot licence.

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It also wants plans to give the SPCA additional powers to investigate wildlife crime to be dropped.

A charity has previously warned ministers not to be “hoodwinked” by the shooting lobby’s definition of “humane cable restraints”, which work in the same way as traditional snares but with a few changes aimed at preventing strangulation and tangling.

However, BASC Scotland director Peter Clark claimed the bill remains unworkable, raising the spectre of a potential legal challenge. “Throughout the entire process of this Bill, BASC has been at the forefront of leading the necessary changes to ensure sustainable grouse moor management can continue,” he said.

“This letter makes reasonable and well-evidenced requests to the minister ahead of the final debate, to ensure the Bill does not hinder that management.

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“From the ban on snares to the inclusion of more powers for the SSPCA, we see a bill that is still unworkable and disproportionate for our sector.

“This letter sends a clear message to the minister – this bill cannot pass in its current state.”

Max Wiszniewski, campaign manager for Revive – an coalition of groups calling for grouse moor reform – said the Scottish Government should reject BASC’s “cynical” attempt to dilute the legislation.

He told The National: “It’s unsurprising to see the shooting fraternity making a last ditch attempt to water down this legislation, to avoid necessary scrutiny of their woefully unregulated and destructive industry.

“Grouse moors are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of animals, the burning of huge swathes of Scotland and the pollution of the land from lead shot and toxic medicated medicated grit that’s spread throughout the countryside – all so more grouse can be shot by a few wealthy people for sport.

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“While the grouse moor bill could go further to tackle this circle of destruction, it marks an important and necessary intervention into land management activities and a full ban on snaring would be an important gain for animal welfare, something that seems is of little concern to the industry.

“The Government would do well, to continue to reject these cynical attempts to rebrand snaring which up until now, has fooled no-one.”

MSPs are set to debate the bill in Holyrood on March 19.