foxTHE UK’s leading rural groups have launched their new code of practice on the use of snares for fox control in England.

The 12-page code is a collaboration between the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Countryside Alliance (CA), The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO), Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), The Moorland Association, CLA, Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), and provides advice on snare design and snare deployment, in light of the latest research and technological developments.

The code is aimed at those who use snares in the English countryside and seeks to improve animal management and conservation in fox control while minimising the risk to non-target species.

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It sets out the legal requirements (Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, Deer Act 1991 and Animal Welfare Act 2006), plus updated best practice advice to guide farmers, gamekeepers and other land managers in the efficient and humane use of code-compliant snares. It advises that snares should only be used if the alternatives are impractical, or would not be effective. It emphasises that snares must be used responsibly and that set snares must be regularly inspected.

Glynn Evans, BASC head of game and deer management, said:

“It is to be welcomed that the rural sector has been allowed to take the lead on the production of this code. Countryside organisations are the experts in this area and are therefore well placed to deliver the information and promote best practice among those who use snares.

“Throughout the development of this code, countryside organisations have worked side by side with interested parties across England and I would like to thank all those involved in these discussions, including Defra, for their input.”

Liam Stokes, CA head of shooting campaigns, said:

“In working together to draft this code, countryside groups are taking responsibility for an issue which stirs public opinion. It is hoped the code will reassure people that we take this responsibility extremely seriously.

“It is vital that we improve awareness of the issues around snaring and we will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to ensure the messages from the code are widely disseminated to all users throughout England.”

Charles Nodder, NGO political officer, said:

“Allowing countryside groups to take a collaborative approach to this publication was the right way forward. The best way to improve animal welfare and reassure the public is for those with a stake in the future of snaring to work together as closely as possible.”

Jonathan Reynolds, GWCT head of predation control studies, said:

“Since the last code was published in 2005, GWCT has done a considerable amount of research into the use of fox snares by different interest groups, snare design, operating practices, selectivity and the condition of captured animals. We identified which practices led to a risk of poor welfare, and which designs help to minimise non-target captures. The new code reflects our current state of knowledge.”

Andrew Clark, NFU director of policy, said:

“It is crucial that farmers can control certain species for the benefit of agricultural production, animal husbandry, game management and the conservation of wildlife. The code provides clear and practical advice to ensure those who use snares do so effectively and humanely.

“The code will help improve snare operator practice by providing clear and practical advice on how to comply with the law and best practice. This will in turn ensure improved standards in animal welfare and reduce the impact on non-target species.”

The code is available as a download here and in booklet form. It will also be distributed at events around the country. The code also provides the foundation to fox snaring courses run by many of the partner organisations.

Garry Doolan

Garry Doolan is BASC’s deputy director of communications and public affairs. He has more than 20 years experience of journalism and the media. He joined the organisation in 2016 and is a keen shooter and beater, with his springer spaniel Quincy.

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