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Petition Make the use of free-running snares illegal for trapping wildlife

The Government should prohibit the sale, use and manufacture of free-running snares under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, putting them in the same category as self-locking snares, which are already illegal.

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We believe that people setting free-running snares cannot ensure animal welfare as required under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, that such snares cause unnecessary suffering to mammals, are indiscriminate and should be banned.

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Government responded

This response was given on 25 June 2021

The Government recognises that some people consider snares to be an inhumane and unnecessary means of trapping wild animals and will launch a call for evidence on the use of snares.

Snares may be used in the UK to catch and restrain certain animals, primarily foxes and rabbits, for the purpose of wildlife management.

Snares are controlled in England and Wales under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This prohibits the use of self-locking snares and the setting of any type of snare in places where they are likely to catch certain non-target animals such as badgers. It also requires snares to be inspected at least once daily. A person guilty of an offence can receive an unlimited fine or a custodial sentence.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 also prohibits causing unnecessary suffering to animals under the control of a person, including those animals caught in traps.

The Code of Best Practice on the Use of Snares for Fox Control in England sets out clear principles for the legal and humane use of snares. This was published on 20 October 2016 and can be found at:

We know that some people consider snares to be an inhumane and unnecessary means of trapping wild animals, while others maintain they are an essential tool in controlling certain species. Therefore, we have committed to launching a call for evidence on the use of snares. This was announced in our Action Plan for Animal Welfare ( We launched the Action Plan in May 2021 as part of our continued drive to maintain the highest animal welfare standards in the world.

The call for evidence will be publicly available online, allowing all interested parties to express their views on the use of snares. In this way, the Government will ensure it has the very latest understanding on this issue, and our position will be informed by the responses received.

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

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