The Welsh Government has published landmark legislation to outlaw the use of snares for trapping and killing wildlife on the nation’s game bird shooting estates. In the new Agriculture (Wales) Bill introduced in the Senedd, a complete ban on the use of snares has been included to be passed into law.

The move follows Welsh Climate Change Minister Julie James making clear in December that the shooting of game birds for sport does not have the devolved government’s support. It has been widely welcomed as a victory for wildlife by nature protection organisations including Wild Moors, Animal Aid and the League Against Cruel Sports.

Speaking about the Bill, Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths said: “Wales will be the first country in the UK to introduce a complete ban on the use of snares. These devices catch animals indiscriminately, causing a great deal of suffering, and they are not compatible with the high animal welfare standards we strive for here in Wales. A complete ban is the only way forward.”

Snares are set on grouse moors to catch and aid the killing of foxes which prey on game birds reared for sports shooting. However, there are many instances of other animals including hares, badgers and even pet dogs and cats becoming entangled and injured in the indiscriminate wire nooses.

Wild animal welfare advocates have long argued in favour of a complete ban on snares because of the prolonged suffering they inflict on captured animals. An animal welfare study commissioned by the UK government found that animals caught in the contraptions can endure bruising, wounding, strangulation and even death.

Whilst there are no requirements for grouse moors to disclose records of the number of wild animals targeted in snares during their operations, one moorland estate in Powys has previously told the media it had killed more than 200 foxes in a single year. It is believed there may be as many as five grouse moors in Wales.

Wild Moors is encouraging the Welsh government to now make clear its plans to tackle other harmful practices being carried out in the nation’s uplands including the burning of carbon-rich peatlands and illegal bird of prey persecution.

Luke Steele, Executive Director of Wild Moors, said: “We are pleased the Welsh government has recognised the need to outlaw the use of snares in what we hope will be the first of many measures introduced to tackle the damage being inflicted on the nation’s wildlife and rich natural heritage by game bird shooting.”