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Changes to snaring

Changes to snaring legislation take effect in Scotland.

Changes to snaring legislation come into effect on 11th March, throughout Scotland. Snare operators are encouraged to make themselves aware of the changes to the law, which are designed to address animal welfare concerns.

Members of the public are reminded that, if they suspect that illegal snaring or trapping is taking place, they should contact the police and should not attempt to disarm or destroy the trap in question.

The four areas that have been addressed by The Snares (Scotland) Order 2010 are;

1. Stops

Snares must be fitted with effective stops to prevent nooses from closing too far.

  • leporid (rabbit) snares should be fitted with a stop 13cm from the running end
  • fox snares should be fitted with a stop 23cm from the running end

This is specifically to avoid strangulation of the target species. Snares are intended to restrain animals not kill them.

2. Free running snares

Each snare must be checked when it is set and subsequently at least once every 24 hours to ensure that it is free running.

If a set snare is found to have become not free running then the operator must either remove or repair it.

3. Anchors

All snares that are not staked in place must be fixed with an effective anchor to prevent them being dragged.

This is to ensure that snared animals cannot drag the snare away and become entangled. An animal that can drag a snare away from the location in which it is set is at a much increased risk of injury.

4. Location

Snares must never be set on or near features that could result in animals becoming fully or partially suspended or drowning.

This applies to natural features, such as woody vegetation or streams, and man made features, such as fences and ditches.

Future changes

Two other changes to the provisions about snaring under the 1981 Act are currently being considered for the prospective Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill.

These are that all snares must be fitted with identification tags, which will allow the authorities to identify their operators, but will not allow identification by casual passers-by, and a snaring qualification course for those wishing to set snares.


You can download the latest version of Snaring in Scotland - A Practitioners' Guide below.

This industry guide was produced to give snare operators advice regarding best practice in snaring.


UPDATED 22/09/2010

The guide was updated in September 2010. The most recent version (third edition) can be downloaded from our Resources pages.