Scottish wildcats, mountain hares, badgers, hedgehogs, deer, otters and even pets are dying agonisingly in snares, according to a report to be launched this week at the SNP conference.
The document compiled by animal rights activists claims the controversial method of pest control is cruel and calls on the Scottish Government to ban it.
Titled “Cruel and Indiscriminate: Why Scotland must become snare free”, the study has been commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports and the animal welfare charity OneKind.
The report points out that the SNP and the Scottish Conservatives are the only Scottish political parties not to have an official stance in favour of outlawing snares.
It also claims the target animal, normally a fox, represents only a small proportion of the animals caught in snares. According to the report, up to two-thirds of animals trapped in the wire nooses include protected Scottish wildcats, mountain hares, badgers, hedgehogs, deer, otters and family pets.
The Scottish Government is currently carrying out a review into the regulations governing the use of snares.
In the report, Professor Ranald Munro, visiting professor of forensic veterinary pathology at the Royal Veterinary College, said evisceration, strangulation and amputation resulted from snaring.
He said: “Nowadays, few people would advocate the use of strychnine or gin traps for wildlife control, yet these methods were once commonplace. Snaring is another of these old-fashioned methods that should be consigned to history.”
Last night the organisations behind the report called for the practice to be outlawed.
Robbie Marsland, director of League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government’s refusal to ban snares is a complete cop-out. The reality is that these devices kill, strangle, rip, tear and induce panic and desperate attempts to escape by any animal that comes their way, regardless of whether it’s a so-called pest, an endangered species or even a family’s dog or cat.”
He added: “Labour, Green and Lib Democrat party policy and 76 per cent of the Scottish public calls for snares to be banned.”
Harry Huyton, director of OneKind, said: “The Scottish countryside is still riddled with snares, and attempts to regulate snaring have failed to protect wildlife and our pets from suffering.”
Yesterday a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Scottish Natural Heritage is already carrying out a review of snaring on behalf of the Scottish Government. This work is due to be completed by the end of the year and the findings will be made public. Ministers will not prejudge the outcome of this inquiry and will study its findings closely, before deciding if additional measures to improve animal welfare are required.”