England risks being left behind other parts of the UK if it doesn’t move to ban snares – putting wild animals at continued risk of injury and death, according to MPs.

MPs speaking in a Westminster Hall debate this month said that grouse moors continue to cause immense suffering to wild animals by using snares as part of efforts to drive up the number of game birds available for sports shooting. 

Snares are anchored loops of wire cable designed to catch foxes around the neck and restrain them until the operator comes to kill them.

The cross-party selection of MPs also welcomed efforts by devolved authorities across the UK for their progress on ending snare use. In Wales, legislation was introduced in the Senedd in September to implement an outright ban on snares and in Scotland the government has recently completed a consultation and is expected to follow a recommendation from its expert animal welfare advisors to do the same.

Tracey Crouch MP (Con, Chatham and Aylesford) said: “I implore the Government to follow most European countries, which have banned snares altogether, and to work with the devolved Administrations. 

“Wales is banning the use of snares, and Scotland conducted a statutory review of the practice. In December, the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission recommended a ban and I hope that the Scottish Government will agree with that recommendation. However, if they do, England will be left behind.”

Animal welfare research by Defra found that snares cause immense suffering to wildlife which becomes entangled in them, with animals experiencing exhaustion, injuries and even death as they desperately attempt to escape. 

Official figures from the study have also shown that 75% of animals captured in snares are not the target species, with badgers, hares and even pet cats and dogs being at risk from the indiscriminate devices.

Defra has said that an evidence review will be held into the rules on snares “in due course”. But MPs strongly rejected the government’s reluctance to announce a timeframe for when the review will be held.

Rachel Maskell MP (Labour, York Central) said: “We were promised a consultation by the Government in 2021. We are now entering 2023. The delays are just not acceptable. Wales is getting on with the job and legislating. Scotland was consulting. That is the direction we must follow. Snares are cruel—no ifs, no buts. They cause suffering and must be banned.”