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Welsh government sacrifices the survival of curlew

Members of the Senedd have this week approved the first Wales agriculture Bill which sets out the future support for farming. It is expected to come into force later this summer, after it has received Royal Assent. The main source of future government funding for farmers in Wales will come through the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme due to begin in 2025. Whilst we welcome the development and the progression of the Agriculture (Wales) Bill, we are incredibly disappointed by the Welsh government’s refusal to engage with stakeholders in our sector on their proposals to ban the use of snares, which forms part of the Bill. 

The Countryside Alliance and other interested parties have worked tirelessly to encourage the government to replace non code compliant snares with Humane Cable Restraints (HCRs), a device which meets international trapping standards and has significant scientific research and study behind it. Our proposals which were tabled by Members of the Senedd as amendments were to ban the use of non-code compliant snares and to introduce HCRs under a strict licensing system, whereby users would need to be trained and registered.

However, the Minister Lesley Griffiths has bowed down to the animal rights lobby which has continuously produced misinformation on snares and has led a disingenuous campaign with a significant lack of scientific evidence to support an outright ban.

The Minister has continuously refused to meet stakeholders to discuss HCRs despite asking the Countryside Alliance in February 2022 to facilitate such a meeting, but then refused to engage further. It has also become clear that members of her advisory team have in the past been part of a substantial campaign to ban the use of snares and have refused to acknowledge HCRs. It is unsurprising then that we find ourselves in the position that we are.  

The tragic irony is that the Welsh government talks about the restoration of nature and biodiversity and sustainability but has removed yet another vital tool of predator control and wildlife management. There are now almost no practical and legal means to control foxes over large areas of Wales and for much of the year. It is farmers wishing to protect livestock and those trying their hardest to conserve threatened species of ground nesting birds, such as the curlew which is set to be extinct by 2030 without intervention, who are left without the tools they need. The Welsh government has significantly funded curlew restoration projects in Wales but is undermining this effort by not allowing the licensing of HCRs. In pursuing the animal rights agenda, rather than animal welfare, the government has put at risk the welfare of livestock and the very survival of some of Wales’s most vulnerable species. This decision will cause nothing but harm and does nothing for welfare, while making the delivery of the government’s own environmental objectives harder, if not in some areas impossible; objectives that can only be delivered through the effort of land managers, who once again have been ignored.

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