Protecting Scotland’s wildlife

Consultation text with picture of rabbit in a field - Views sought on snare trap ban.
Alan Robertson

The use of snare traps could be banned as part of new plans to protect vulnerable wildlife and promote sustainable wildlife management.

The Scottish Government is seeking the public’s views on whether an outright ban should be put in place or if any exemptions should be considered. A snare is a thin wire noose used for catching a wild animal for the purposes of wildlife management.

The consultation is also asking for opinions on extending the investigative powers of the Scottish SPCA - a new measure which will help tackle wildlife crime. This will involve giving SSPCA inspectors more authority to search, examine and seize evidence related to incidents of illegal hunting and other offences related to wildlife persecution.

Environment Minister Gillian Martin said:

“Snare traps lead to unnecessary suffering for animals and these proposals are part of our ongoing efforts to ensure that wildlife management is both sustainable and humane.

“Currently, only a small number of farmers and land managers use snare traps. More effective and humane forms of managing wildlife are available and we will continue to support the industry to make use of these methods.

“Wildlife crime and the illegal killing of wild mammals continues to blight our rural communities. By extending the investigative powers of SSPCA inspectors, we can ensure that the destructive impact that these criminals have on our environment is diminished and that they are brought to justice.”

Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said:

“The Scottish SPCA strongly supports this announcement by the Scottish Government. As Scotland’s animal welfare charity, we have long called for an outright ban on the use of snares due to the level of suffering an animal is caused.

“Animals that are caught in snares can be caused unimaginable physical and mental anguish. Following reports from members of the public, we have found domestic animals, protected species and target animals that have all suffered dreadfully in both illegal and legal snares.

“A ban on all snaring is the only way to stop this unacceptable suffering. We are very pleased with the announcement of a ban, which will be a historic moment for animal welfare in Scotland."

Subject to consultation, the new provisions would be included in the Scottish Government’s upcoming Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill which will aim to protect the environment and help end the persecution of birds of prey.


The consultation will run for 6 weeks from 22 August to 3 October 2023. 

Snares can cause significant injury, prolonged suffering and death to wildlife. There is also a risk that non-target wildlife species and pets can be caught in them.

The use of snares to catch certain animals (foxes, hares and rabbits) is currently permitted in Scotland, and must be carried out in accordance with the requirements set out in section 11 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The majority of European countries do not allow the use of snare traps and are currently only legal in six European countries: Belgium, France, Ireland, Spain, Latvia and the United Kingdom.