06
Mar
13

Environment Minister answers parliamentary questions on mountain hare snaring

ChristineGrahameMSPBack in early February, following the ‘not guilty’ verdict in the Lochindorb hare snare trial, MSP Christine Grahame posed some parliamentary questions to clarify the legal position regarding the snaring of mountain hares (see here).

Environment Paul Wheelhouse has now answered those questions:

Question S4W-12782: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 31/01/2013

To ask the Scottish Government how many applications for species licences to use snares to capture mountain hares have been made since 2006; how many have been granted, and for what reasons licences were not granted.

Answered by Paul Wheelhouse (25/02/2013):

Four applications for a licence to snare mountain hares were received between 2006 and June 2011 by the Scottish Government, as the appropriate licensing authority at that time. Two were granted and two were refused.

The applications that were refused did not offer sufficient detail or historical information on populations to allow the Scottish Government to satisfy itself that this proposal would not affect the favourable conservation status of mountain hares and two of the licences were therefore refused.

Following the introduction of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act 2011, the licensing function was transferred to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in July 2011. SNH has received one application for the snaring of mountain hares, which was granted.

Question S4W-12781: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 31/01/2013

To ask the Scottish Government what the legal basis is for the licensing regime operated by Scottish Natural Heritage regarding the use of snares to capture mountain hares.

Answered by Paul Wheelhouse (25/02/2013):

Mountain hares are listed on Schedule 3 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) considers that snares are non-selective traps and a licence is therefore required under Regulation 44 of the above Regulations.

SNH is, however, aware of the recent case at Inverness Sheriff Court concerning the snaring of mountain hares. SNH will be reviewing its position in light of this case before the end of the close season on 31 July 2013.

Question S4W-12780: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 31/01/2013

To ask the Scottish Government how it ensures that it complies with the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats regarding the (a) use of non-selective traps to capture protected species and (b) the reporting requirements under article 9.2.

Answered by Paul Wheelhouse (25/02/2013):

The requirements of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats as regards the use of non-selective traps to capture protected species are implemented in Scotland through the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994. Schedule 3 of these Regulations lists species which may not be taken by specified means including traps which are non-selective according to their principle or their conditions of use, or any method which is indiscriminate and capable of causing its local disappearance or serious disturbance to a population. However, the Regulations allow licences to be granted under certain circumstances to permit the taking of these protected species by these non-selective methods, for example preventing serious damage to growing timber is a commonly used reason.

In order to comply with Article 9.2 of the convention, UK licensing authorities report biennially to the European Commission on the granting of all such licences.

mhare contributedIt’s interesting that SNH will be ‘reviewing its position’ about its licensing regime in light of the Lochindorb verdict. As far as we could tell, the Lochindorb ‘not guilty’ verdict was based on the specific type of snare used at that time (sometimes called a ‘w’ snare, sometimes called an ‘m’ snare, depending on who you’re talking to). That snare was legal in 2009 (at the time the alleged offences took place). During the trial the defence successfully argued that that particular type of snare had never knowingly caught any non-target species. Unfortunately the prosecution was unable to provide any evidence to the contrary. However, that snare-type has since been banned, because under the Snares Scotland Order (2010) it is no longer legal to use a snare in a way that an animal could become partially or wholly suspended.

So, accordingly, as SNH considers the legal snares currently in use as ‘non-selective’ (i.e. they could catch non-target species), surely they won’t be reviewing their licensing policy in favour of allowing hare snaring? We’ll have to wait and see.

We’ll be blogging a bit more about snaring in general, especially as the new snaring legislation comes into force at the end of this month. There’s quite an amusing lead article on the new snaring regs in the latest Modern Gamekeeper rag, with a contribution from everyone’s favourite policy advisor, Bert Burnett of the SGA. More of that later…

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1 Response to “Environment Minister answers parliamentary questions on mountain hare snaring”


  1. March 6, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    I think snaring is barbaric and I really did not think that trapping of any kind was allowed in the UK, thought we were more civilized than that, this is cruel…… :(


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