With lambing on Scottish farms due to start in earnest this month, NFU Scotland has reiterated its view that snaring, when carried out properly, is essential for controlling those predators responsible for significant losses of lambs each year.
The Union believes that is a vital tool in protecting stock from growing fox numbers but fully accepts and endorses a system whereby those involved in snaring are properly trained and operate to a strict code of practice.
The Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill, currently passing through the Scottish Parliament, has ignited the debate on the continued use of snaring.
Ahead of the Bill’s next stage, NFU Scotland’s Head of Rural Policy, Jonnie Hall, addressed the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Working Group on Animal Welfare on the issue.
At last week’s meeting Mr Hall said: “Every lambing time, farmers face an annual threat of having their hard work undermined when new-born lambs are taken and killed by foxes.
“With fox numbers growing, lamb losses continue to present the potential for emotional stress and an economic burden on the business.
“While the lambing season highlights the danger to lambs from foxes, it is important to bear in mind that there is a year-round threat from predators to other livestock such as poultry and outdoor pigs. For a significant number of Scottish farmers, snares are an important and necessary tool for controlling such pests.
“As such, we want the important role of snaring in humanely controlling predators to be retained. In addition, all those involved in snaring must be properly trained in the use of snares and operate to existing codes of practice and legal requirements.
“By operating to these professional standards on snaring, we believe that the use of snares in the future and that snaring should remain the most effective and practical means available to farmers to prevent costly livestock losses through predation.”