Wales bans ‘cruel’ animal snares in historic vote
Wales is on course to become the first country in the UK to ban cruel animal traps known as snares following a vote at the Senedd.
MSs have been praised by leading animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports following the defeat of amendments moved by the Welsh Conservatives that would have allowed the continued use of some snares.
The vote to ban all kinds of snares was part of the stage three debate on the Agriculture (Wales) Bill.
As a result, the legislative process now moves on to the fourth and final stage in which the Senedd is expected to ratify the bill as early as next week, subject to King’s consent.
It follows over five years of campaigning by the League Against Cruel Sports and other animal welfare bodies like the RSPCA and Animal Aid..
Will Morton, head of public affairs at the League, said: “Wales is leading the way in animal welfare by being the first country to ban these cruel and indiscriminate traps.
“We thank the thousands of campaigners who are backing the ban in Wales and the MSs who gave cross party support to make it become a reality.”
The debate saw the defeat of amendments to allow so-called humane cable restraints, a term used by the shooting industry lobby to try and mask the cruelty of these devices.
Snares are cruel wire traps – nearly quarter of a million lie hidden in the British countryside at any one time – and are used by shooting industry gamekeepers on “game” bird shoots to trap wildlife.
They tighten around the neck, torso or legs of the animal and cause immense pain and suffering to their trapped victims for hours or days before the animal is either shot or faces a lingering death.
They trap indiscriminately and UK Government figures show that nearly three quarters of the animals caught are not the intended target species.
Polling carried out by YouGov in January 2021 showed that 78% of the Welsh public wanted snares to be made illegal.
Once the Agriculture (Wales) Bill is passed – something that is all but inevitable – it will then come into force two months after receiving royal assent.
Mr Morton added: “The ban on the use of snares will protect wild, farmed and domestic animals from falling victim to these brutal devices, a move that will be welcomed by the vast majority of the Welsh people.
“The next step is to lobby the UK and Scottish governments to follow the precedent set in Wales and to ban these barbaric devices.”
During a debate on four amendments that would have exempted so-called humane cable restraints from the ban and created a licensing system, Welsh Conservative MS Sam Kurtz argued that while his group accepted that most snares were cruel and should be outlawed, there was a need to trap humanely predators that preyed on endangered species including curlews.
But Welsh Labour MS Vikki Howells, who has long campaigned for a ban on snares, said: “The UK is one of the few countries in Europe which still permits snaring. I’m delighted that the Welsh Government has put forward proposals to change this. I’m also very pleased to have played a part in developing this proposal, not least through serving on the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee.
“The evidence that has been presented to our committee throughout the process has been clear and unequivocal. Snares are cruel, vicious and indiscriminate. They maim and inflict horrific injuries and their use can be lethal. These animal welfare points are made not just by charities or campaigning organisations, but also by the body representing vets.
”Moreover, as research commissioned by Defra has established, seven out of 10 animals caught are not the intended targets. Rather they can be domestic animals, farm animals and protected species.”
All four amendments were defeated by 38 votes to 14.
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