Snares: Legislative Update

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:45 pm on 26th January 2016.

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Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party 2:45 pm, 26th January 2016

In November 2015, I decided to put a hold on the Snares Order because I was aware that many are opposed to the idea of using snares in any situation due to concerns about animal welfare. However, I am also conscious that there are two sides to the debate. Those who support the use of snares consider their use to be essential in assisting countryside management practices such as farming, game management and reducing pressure on ground-nesting bird species. The order would supplement existing regulatory controls and would place new technical requirements on snares and how they should be used. All snares would be required to be fitted with permanent safety stops. All snares would need to be fitted with swivels to facilitate twisting action by the animal caught by the snare without causing damage to the animal. The order would require that snares should not be set in a place or in a manner where an animal is likely to become fully or partially suspended or be at risk of drowning, for example, over watercourses. Snare users would be required, when conducting their daily checks, to ensure that the snare remains free-running and to remove or repair the snare if it is not in such a state. Lastly, the use of drag snares would be prohibited. It would be a requirement that snares must be firmly staked into the ground or firmly anchored to an object in an appropriate manner so that the snare could not be dragged away by an animal caught in it.

I am in the process of meeting groups that hold very strong views on both sides of the issue. I will use this process to decide the next steps.