Animal rights campaigners are calling for Scotland to ban snaring after a government review of the practice recommended changes to the law.
The report, from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), shows snaring-related incidents have fallen since a new regulatory regime came into force five years ago, requiring training, official identification tags and record-keeping for anyone setting the traps.
New proposals include bringing in the power to ban those convicted of a snaring offence from using the traps, plus technical modifications to reduce animal suffering.
Other suggestions would see shorter time periods allowed for updating records and passing them to police if requested.
But activists claim snares are cruel, causing needless suffering to animals caught in them, and should be outlawed on welfare and ethical grounds.
They say the review was flawed from the outset.
Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, said: “Animals have continued to endure needless suffering as a result of cruel and indiscriminate traps.
“Regulations are not a workable solution for something as crude and barbaric as a snare. In short, you can’t regulate cruelty. We have long argued that a ban is the only way to eradicate the problems associated with snaring.”
Harry Huyton, director of OneKind, added: “The review was an opportunity to assess whether the new snaring regulations had ended the suffering and indiscriminate capture caused by snares. Yet it was destined to fail from day one due to a bizarre and inadequate remit which specifically excluded considering whether snares have a place at all in a modern Scotland. ”
Of 2,578 people who undertook training, 1,502 registered with Police Scotland and got a snaring ID number.
Estate workers welcomed the report and say it shows current rules are working.
Scottish Gamekeepers Association chairman Alex Hogg said: “There have been very few incidents connected to the misuse of snares by individuals who have been trained and whose fox or rabbit snares carry the necessary personal identification tag.”