Leader: Ban snares to end barbaric cruelty to animals

The ban on the hunting of foxes by hounds introduced by the Scottish Parliament in 2002 was a controversial but wise piece of legislation.

Foxes or wildcats, snares do not discriminate between the animals they kill

Supporters of hunting were certainly correct to argue that the pastime was one of long-standing tradition, but it was also utterly barbaric.

Of course, the fox is a pest that must be dealt with, but there are humane ways of keeping the population down.

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It is unthinkable today that we would ever see a change in the law in Scotland to allow foxes to be torn apart by dogs. It is broadly accepted that this is a “sport” of the past.

But there is more to be done before we can truly say that the destruction of foxes is done as painlessly as possible

The use of snares to capture foxes has truly horrifying consequences for a number of different species.

A new report reveals that foxes – normally the target animal when a snare is set – represent only a small proportion of the animals which are caught.

As many as two-thirds of animals trapped in snares are not foxes and include protected Scottish wildcats, mountain hares, badgers, hedgehogs, deer, otters and even family pets.

Many of those creatures have suffered slow, agonising deaths, strangled or eviscerated by snares.

Neither the SNP nor the Scottish Conservatives have made it party policy to ban snares. It is time they joined Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens in doing so.

A survey shows that more than three quarters of Scots are opposed to the use of snares and it is time public feeling on this issue was reflected with action in Holyrood.

If MSPs from all parties agree that foxes should not be hunted with hounds because of the cruelty involved, how can they possibly condone the use of snares?

The Scottish Parliament has the power to act swiftly to end the barbaric practise of snaring. It should do so, immediately.