Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) has said the Scottish government’s intention to introduce a snare ban would deliver a “crippling blow” to attempts to reverse biodiversity loss.

The Scottish government announced consultation today (Tuesday, August 22) on prohibiting the devices. The consultation will run for six weeks from August 22 to October 3, 2023.

SLE said measures to conserve species such as black grouse, curlew, golden plover, grey partridge, lapwing and oystercatcher be severely harmed if the ban were to become law.

Director of moorland at SLE, Ross Ewing, said: “It is deeply regrettable that, at a critical moment in efforts to sustain biodiversity in rural Scotland, the Scottish government is moving towards a ban on the use of snares, thereby removing another tool to manage predation pressure on vulnerable species.

“Ground nesting birds such as curlew and lapwing were once common but are now red-listed species and are at risk from generalist predators, including foxes.

“Being able to undertake sensible predator control using legally set snares has helped to ensure those birds can breed and have the chance to maintain viable populations.”

Ewing said the SLE is urging the Scottish government to give consideration to retaining humane cable restraints (HCRs).

“Failure to retain HCRs would constitute an abdication of responsibility on the part of the Scottish government to do everything it possibly can to combat biodiversity loss. In a nature crisis, such an outcome is simply unconscionable,” he said.


The Scottish government is seeking the public’s views on whether an outright ban on snares should be put in place or if any exemptions should be considered.

The consultation is also asking for opinions on extending the investigative powers of the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) – which would be a new measure to help tackle wildlife crime, it said.

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.”

SSPCA 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.”

Flynn said a ban on all snaring is the only way to stop “unacceptable suffering”.

“We are very pleased with the announcement of a ban, which will be a historic moment for animal welfare in Scotland.”