Unless the sensible and practical guidelines contained in the Welsh Government Code of best practice on the use of snares in fox control are followed to the letter, the legal entitlement to snare foxes in Wales will be consigned to the history books. This is the unprecedented, collective warning being issued by rural organisations, which helped to draw up and endorsed the code. The message is, in short: “use the code or lose the fox snare”.
The Welsh Government published its 10-page bilingual booklet Code of best practice on the use of snares in fox control last September.
The membership organisations behind the joint-statement represent a broad cross-section of rural interests in Wales, and include: the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Countryside Alliance, the Farmers’ Union of Wales, and NFU Cymru. Each partner worked closely with the Welsh Government in drafting the advice given within the Code of best practice on the use of snares in fox control.
Those who snare foxes in Wales are urged in the strongest possible terms to:
- Obtain a copy of the Welsh Government Code of best practice on the use of snares in fox control. Hard copies and downloadable versions can be obtained from the organisations listed, and from the Welsh Government website.
- Read the code fully and understand it.
- Abide by it. Put the code’s advice into practice and snare only in accordance with the measures the code advocates.
- Check their snares. Use only modern, code-compliant equipment. Remember – every fox snare set in Wales MUST comply with the code’s requirements. It is the responsibility of all users of fox snares to ensure their kit conforms to best practice.
- Remember the code is not a training manual. Snare users must be competent before using snares for fox control. If in doubt, get trained. Training is available through the organisations promoting the code.
The Welsh Government code of practice, while not itself a training manual, provides clear and concise advice to those carrying out fox control in the Welsh countryside. It seeks to guide farmers, gamekeepers, and other land managers in using fox snares efficiently and humanely.
No fox snare should be set in Wales without an awareness of the contents of the code, such is its importance in safeguarding snaring’s future. The code sets out detailed best-practice considerations, and highlights the key legal points, with regard to what must be done, and what must not be done when snaring foxes.
It is imperative that the only fox snares used in Wales are those that comply with the technical specifications detailed in the code: using the correct up-to-date snaring kit is at the heart of the code’s advice.
Dr Mike Swan, Head of Education, at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, said: “The new Welsh snaring code provides a practical and effective way forward for improved efficiency in fox control, while minimising risk to non-target species.”
David Pooler, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation North Wales Chairman, said: “The ball is firmly in our court. I won’t preach but either we use modern, high-tech, code-compliant fox snares in the correct way, or snaring – a vital wildlife conservation tool – will be lost to us.”
Director for the Countryside Alliance in Wales, Rachel Evans, said: “Having spent a lot of time getting the code to the point at where it is now was not an easy task with the opposition fighting hard for an outright ban. I cannot emphasise enough the importance for snare users to familiarise themselves with the code and to use code-compliant snares.”
A Farmers’ Union of Wales spokesman said: “As one of the organisations responsible for drafting the code, we are encouraging all farmers to follow it. It is an important step forward in terms of animal welfare, both in terms of fox control and protecting livestock, which can be killed by or receive horrific injuries from foxes.”
An NFU Cymru spokesman said: “Fox control is necessary in Wales to protect farmed livestock. Effective control requires a range of legal methods and snaring is one of those methods. The recently released snaring code produced by Welsh Government ensures that the welfare of the fox and any non-target species is not compromised, as the device restrains and does not kill. Restrained foxes can then be humanely dispatched and non-target species, in the rare event of being inadvertently caught, can be released quickly and without harm. The modern fox snare is produced to the highest standard and used as clearly set out in the code, meets internationally recognised Humane Trapping Standards.”