Badgers – Anti-Snaring

Snaring has not been ruled out as a means of catching badgers for eventually killing.

We in the Dorset Mammal group want an end to all the suffering and the use of ALL snares banned by law.

Image from “Problems with Badgers” from the RSPCA

Snares are wire nooses set to catch wild animals and have been in use for a great many years. Typically they are used as a means of killing foxes or rabbits. The aim is to catch the victims around the neck, so that they die through strangulation or by dislocation of the neck. Some snares however feature a mechanism which stops the noose from closing too tightly. These snares hold their victims alive until the person who set them comes back. The animals are then killed, usually by shooting.

In theory the use of free-running snares (the wire is threaded through a simple eyelet at one end, and the daily inspection of those snares required by law means that snared animals do not suffer but in practice snares are barbaric.

It is all too easy to set a free-running snare in such a way that it will cause tremendous suffering. If a snare is attached to a post (such as a fence post), the captive animal in its efforts to escape may wrap the wire round and round the post until the noose is so tight that it causes serious injury. Snares have also been found positioned on the tops of walls and banks, so that when they catch their victims, the animals fall and suffer death by hanging. Animals caught in snares are open to abuse by other animals, particularly dogs.

Even when a free-running snare is set properly, the wire can easily become kinked or tangled in such a way that the snare acts like a self-locker.

A self-locking snare continues to tighten as its victim struggles, but does relax when the animal stops pulling. This causes the noose to cut through the animal’s skin and into its flesh. A slow death by strangulation – or even near decapitation in some cases – is bad enough, but snares do not only trap animals by the neck. Some get their legs caught and end up with the snare cutting down to the bone. These animals may try and escape by gnawing off their own limbs. Others may be caught around the body. Both badgers and foxes have been found with snares that have almost cut them in half, the snares around their bodies have tightened to around five centimetres in diameter. Some of them were still alive when found.

Snares are meant to be checked daily, but it is obvious that this does not always happen and results in prolonged suffering.

Outlawing self-locking snares alone is not enough. Under the law as it stands the use of self-locking snares is illegal but even free-running snares can be lethal. It is often difficult to define a free-running snare. Dual purpose snares can easily be converted into self-lockers and there are now new types that defy classification as either.

Photo: Colin Varndell

What you can do

If you find an illegal snare

Take a photograph and note the location. If you find illegal self-locking snares set in position, or snares of any description set in such a way that they are likely to catch pets or protected species, please contact the RSPCA, or police covering that area. If the snares are set on badger paths or near badger setts please also contact us. Do not trespass in order to look at snares, and do not damage or remove any snares – if you see a snare which you believe to be illegal, render it safe by closing the noose (with a stick for example).

If you find a live badger or any other animal caught in a snare

Contact the RSPCA or animal rescue group immediately. Do not attempt to rescue it yourself without help. It may escape with the snare still attached.

If you find dead badger in a snare

Report to the RSPCA and police, note the location or arrange to meet the investigators and take them to the location. Do not touch the animal as evidence will need to be conserved.

More information can be obtained from the Badger Trust website, where you can download a factsheet and on the national anti-snaring campaign website.