seneddsmallThe Countryside Alliance is pleased that inaccurate anti-snaring petition has had no impact in the Welsh Assembly, but raises concerns over suggestion that facts are a “matter of opinion”.

A petition to ban snaring in Wales has had no impact on the Welsh Assembly, following joint correspondence to the Petitions Committee from the Countryside Alliance(CA), National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) pointing out extraordinary inaccuracies in the data being used by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) to promote the petition.

This morning (27/09/16) a petition to ban the use, sale and manufacture of snares was discussed by the Petitions Committee of the Welsh Assembly. The petition was lodged by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) and received 1,405 signatures, enough to be considered for further action.

The Petitions Committee are presented with supporting documents to help the decide on a course of action on any given petition. In this instance, as well as the evidence submitted by LACS, these documents included a letter from the CA, NGO and GWCT highlighting the wild inaccuracies in the statistics LACS were using to promote the petition. The letter detailed the way in which LACS had manipulated DEFRA data to come to the conclusion that more animals are snared in Wales every year than actually live in Wales. Correspondence from LACS attempting to refute our analysis further demonstrated their lack of understanding of the data they were manipulating, as the CA pointed out in a final letter to the Petitions Committee.

Having considered the submissions, the Petitions Committee decided that the recently published Welsh Code of Best Practice on the Use of Snares in Fox Control, and meetings already scheduled to monitor the Code’s success, were sufficient. No further action beyond monitoring this process was deemed necessary. While this is a sensible conclusion, the Countryside Alliance has concerns regarding comments made during proceedings regarding the interpretation of facts being “a matter of opinion” that is less important than the petitioning process. The CA will be writing to the Petitions Committee to raise our concerns.
Rachel Evans, Countryside Alliance Director for Wales, said: “We are pleased that this petition, based as it was on very dodgy data, has had no real effect on the Welsh Assembly. We do however feel it is important that petitions be based on sound evidence, and we are concerned that the Petitions Committee felt unable to consider the factual inaccuracies we so clearly highlighted in LACS’ submission. Facts can never be reduced to a matter of opinion, not least because this calls into question the whole process of submitting evidence for consideration. Rural policy-making must not be reduced to simply gaining signatures by fair means or foul, particularly as LACS and their allies are increasingly relying on these methods to drive their campaigns.

“The important thing however is that the future of snaring, a vital wildlife management tool, remains secure in Wales as long as all operators abide by best practice as laid out in the Code.”