One minute she’s on her way to feed her kits, the next has a wire around her neck. As the hours pass, the pain worsens. She’s trapped, the thin metal wire cutting into her skin as she struggles to break free. She’s been caught in a snare. When the person who set the trap arrives, they’ll kill her. Without their mother to feed them, her young will die too. But there is nothing she can do.
Rabbits, along with other species such as hares and foxes, are considered by many to be ‘pest’ species. This means they can legally be killed, simply because someone decides to do so.
Designed to catch animals perceived to be pests, snares are traps made out of a thin metal wire. The idea behind them is that they catch rabbits, hares and foxes around the neck and hold them captive, until the person who set the trap comes to kill them. There are two main types of snare - free running, and self-locking.
Self-locking snares are designed to tighten as the animal struggles, eventually killing them by strangulation or dislocating their neck. Self-locking snares are illegal in the UK. The other form of snare, known as free running, shouldn’t tighten as the animal struggles, but they are far from being humane. Free running snares are legal however, throughout the UK.
In November 2021 animal protection organization Animal Aid relaunched their petition to ban the sale, use and manufacturing of free-running snares. The previous run of this petition in early 2021 attracted 84,636 signatures, almost reaching the 100,000 signatures required for the issue to be debated in parliament.
When an animal of any species, is caught in a snare, they suffer tremendously. The animal’s instincts tell them they need to break free, and so they struggle. As they do so the wire of the snare cuts deeper into their flesh, sometimes continuing into muscle and bone. As well as the physical suffering, an animal trapped in a snare is subjected to extreme emotional distress. They’re also deprived of food and water.
For a member of a target species, such as a hare, rabbit or fox, being caught in snare means certain death. Whether they’re killed by their injuries, another animal whilst they’re trapped there, they die of shock, or they’re killed by the person who set the snare, their final hours are spent in extreme pain and distress.
And it’s not just foxes, rabbits and hares who suffer. In 2012 DEFRA reported that close to 70% of animals caught in traps were of a non-target species. This includes dogs, cats, sheep, and many non-target species of wildlife. Whilst these animals may not be killed by the person who laid the snare, the majority will require veterinary treatment to survive, which only some will receive, and for some will not be successful. Not only do snares not discriminate between species, but they don’t discriminate between animals who are young, pregnant, or caring for young either.
Snares cause immense pain and suffering, both physical and emotional. Whether viewed as a 'pest' species or not, no animal deserves to be caught in a snare.
Click here to sign the latest petition asking for a ban on sale, use and manufacturing of free-running snares. Remember that this is a new petition, so even if you signed the previous one, Animal Aid needs your help again.
To find out more the issue of snares, take a look at Onekind’s SnareWatch 2020 Report, and the National Anti-Snaring Campaign