“Snare traps may not be used in England in areas where there is a possibility that kept animals may become intentionally or unintentionally ensnared.”—
This new clause would prohibit the use of snare traps in the England where there is a possibility that they might ensnare kept animals. Snare traps are thin wire nooses that are used to catch foxes, rabbits and stoats but can also catch other animals such as cats.
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
Under new clause 16, we propose a ban on the use of snare traps in England in areas where there is a possibility that kept animals might be ensnared, whether intentionally or not. Snares are imperfect, indiscriminate traps that regularly cause unnecessary suffering and harm to kept animals as a result of incorrect usage and inadequate legislation. Although snares can legally be used only to trap certain species, in reality it is impossible to limit the species or type of animal that gets trapped in a snare. As a result, non-target species are often caught and suffer through exposure and injury.
The current legislation, which was introduced in 2005, is failing to protect animals from harm. It proposed a code of practice on snares, setting out best practice on their use and guidance on where and how to set them. Unfortunately, compliance with the code is voluntary, which severely negates its effectiveness. A 2012 report by DEFRA found that although awareness of the code was high, levels of compliance with best practice were, sadly, exceedingly low.
The same report found that 1.7 million animals were caught in snares each year. Of those, 33% were hares, 26% were badgers, 25% were foxes and 14% were other animals. In 2015 alone, the RSPCA reported 717 calls from members of the public about animals caught in snares, including 157 cats, 58 dogs, 10 equines and 307 wild mammals. The reality is that without more controls over the placement of snares, there is no way to prevent more kept animals from being snared and injured, whether intentionally or not.
I absolutely recognise that snares can be used improperly, and that non-target species, such as livestock, and particularly cats, can get trapped in them, sometimes fatally. The code of practice to which the hon. Lady referred was set out in 2016, and tries to ensure that snares are not set near domestic dwellings, where pets may be trapped.
We continue to work on the issue. In our action plan for animal welfare, we have committed to opening a call for evidence on the use of snares, which we hope to publish shortly. We encourage Members across the House, and indeed members of the public, to make their views known when we open the consultation. In those circumstances, I ask that the motion be withdrawn.
I understand what the Minister says about more consultation, but the Opposition feel that the matter is clearcut and we wish to press new clause 16 to a vote. A lot of time has passed since the code of practice came in; as I say, it is sad to hear that it has been ineffective in resolving some of the issues.