You are here:

House of Commons Library

Ban on the manufacture, sale, possession and use of snares

Published Tuesday, July 19, 2016

This pack has been produced ahead of the debate to be held on Thursday 21 July 2016 on a ban on the manufacture, sale, possession and use of snares. The topic for this debate has been nominated by the Backbench Business Committee. The debate will be introduced by Jim Dowd MP on the motion: That this House notes the indiscriminate and cruel nature of snares, the failure of previous attempts at voluntary and self-regulation amongst operators, and the continued suffering caused to thousands of animals every year by these traps; and calls on the Government to implement a full ban on the manufacture, sale, possession and use of snares at the earliest opportunity.

Jump to full report >>

Snares are commonly used in the UK to catch certain animals prior to their killing.[1] They can legally be used, subject to certain conditions, to catch animals including foxes, rabbits, rats and grey squirrels.

While snares can restrain animals without causing injury, they have the potential to cause injury and death. They can also catch non-target animals such as badgers and cats.[2] Their use is therefore controversial.

Snares are controlled in England and Wales under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This:

  • Prohibits the use of self-locking snares. These are not defined in the Act, but they are generally taken to be snares that continue to tighten when the animal struggles and thereby lead to asphyxiation;
  • Prohibits the setting of any type of snare in places where they are likely to catch certain non-target animals such as badgers;
  • Requires snares to be inspected on a daily basis.

In 2005 DEFRA issued a non-statutory Code of good practice on the use of snares in fox and rabbit control. This was followed by DEFRA-commissioned research on Determining the Extent of Use and Humaneness of Snares in England and Wales.

As a result of this research the Welsh Government published The Code of Best Practice on the Use of Snares in Fox Control in September 2015. This aimed “to deliver higher animal welfare standards, increased efficiency in terms of fox control, and ensure that fewer non-target species are being caught”.[3]

In Northern Ireland similar controls on snares apply under the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. However, in October 2015 the Northern Ireland Government approved the Snares Order (Northern Ireland) 2015 which would have added additional restrictions on the use of snares in NI. In November 2015 the NI government decided that it would “put a hold” on the Order while further consultation was conducted.[4]

In recent years Scotland has tightened regulations on snares beyond the situation in England and Wales. Snares must have safety stops fitted and users are required to now attend a training course and register for a personal identification number. This ID number is required to be displayed on all snares which are set.[5] See Snaring in Scotland: A practitioners’ guide for further information.


[2]     ibid




Commons Debate packs CDP-2016-0148

Authors: Nikki Sutherland; Oliver Bennett

Topics: Animal welfare, Countryside

Share this page

Stay up to date

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.