Farmers 'need snares to combat fox threat'

The right of farmers to control predators with snares was supported yesterday by NFU Scotland policy director Jonny Hall.

Speaking to the Scottish Parliament's cross party working group on animal welfare, Hall reiterated its view that snaring, when carried out properly, was essential for controlling those predators responsible for significant losses of lambs each year.

He added the union believed snaring was a vital tool in protecting stock from growing foxes numbers but it also fully accepted and endorsed a system whereby those involved in snaring were properly trained and operated to a strict code of practice.

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The issue is particularly relevant at this time of year with lambing on Scottish farms due to start in earnest next month. The policy statement is also relevant in the light of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill currently passing through the Scottish Parliament.

"Every lambing time, farmers face a threat when new-born lambs are taken and killed by foxes. With fox numbers growing, lamb losses continue to present the potential for emotional stress and an economic burden on the business.

While the main problem with foxes is the taking of young lambs, Hall also pointed to the year-round threat to other livestock such as poultry and outdoor pigs.

"For a significant number of Scottish farmers, snares are an important and necessary tool for controlling such pests."

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