For those who don't live in the countryside, the word 'snare' might conjure up images of historical man-traps whose days are long since gone. Or possibly a type of drum. But the modern reality of a snare is a loop of wire that traps around 1.7 million animals a year. They are meant to capture rather than kill, but in many instances the animals will suffer a slow and painful death from strangulation, evisceration, exposure to the elements, starvation or dehydration.
If those words don't really cut through you, then I dare you to look at our new undercover video which graphically shows the impact of snaring on its victims.
A poll last year found that 77% of the public think that snares should be illegal, and 68% of MPs support a ban on snares. Yet they are still in use - around 260,000 of them at any one time. The argument for their use is that they are needed for land management and 'pest' control, but let me look at that for a moment.
Snares are only used on 5% of landholdings in England and Wales, primarily for use by gamekeepers to protect shooting interests (yes, that means the foxes are being killed to protect game birds. Which will then be killed). Less than one in four British people find shooting animals for sport acceptable.
Snares are legal for use on foxes and rabbits, however a Defra report has shown that on average, seven out of ten of the animals caught by snares were neither fox nor rabbit. Hares and badgers are often caught, while many others include pet cats and dogs. Snares are indiscriminate.
Back to the foxes. Some will argue (as they do with hunting), that livestock needs to be protected. Two points here - firstly, empirical evidence shows that fox predation accounts for only a very small proportion of lamb losses, with 95% of lamb deaths due to farm husbandry. Secondly, killing foxes is pointless - another fox will fill the space within three to four days.
If you manage to watch our video, you'll understand that there was another reason for us making it, other than to show the reality of a snare death. Snaring is, in theory, regulated by a Code of Practice, which sets out guidelines for their use. Without going into the details of what the code says, our video shows several violations of the Code in just a few seconds of footage. A Defra report on the Code showed that not a single fox snare operator visited for the report was fully compliant.
Just a few months ago, Defra consulted on the Code; we responded, nothing has been done. Our only conclusion from all of this is that a Code of Practice is pointless and unworkable.
This week, we called on MPs from all parties to ban snares outright. Britain is one of only five countries left in the EU where snares are completely legal, and frankly it shames us all. Snares are indiscriminate, inhumane, and unnecessary. Banning them is a no-brainer.
To find out more about snaring, visit www.league.org.uk.