Snares are indiscriminate
Gamekeepers and others who set snares may take precautions to try to ensure that they will capture only the intended victims. However, it is simply not possible to set a snare in such a way that it will only catch a rabbit or a fox and nothing else. The fact is that a great many badgers and other non-target animals are caught in snares every year. Other animals caught in snares include dogs, cats, sheep, horses, deer, and even otters. Many of these animals suffer a terrible fate...
Snares are barbaric
In theory the use of free-running snares, and the daily inspection of those snares required by law, means that snared animals do not suffer. They either strangle quickly, or hold their victims for a day at most, until the animals are killed humanely by the persons who set the snares.
Well, that's the theory. In practice it is all too easy to set a free-running snare in such a way that it will cause tremendous suffering. If a snare is attached to a post (such as a fence post), the captured animal in its efforts to escape will end up wrapping the wire round and round the post until the noose is so tight that it causes serious injury. Snares have also been found positioned on the tops of walls or banks, so that when they catch their victims, the animals fall and are hung to death.
Even when a free-running snares is set properly, the wire can easily become kinked or tangled in such a way that the snare acts like a self-locker. A self-locking snare continues to tighten as its victim struggles, but does not relax when the animal stops pulling. This causes the noose to cut through the animal's skin and into its flesh, causing terrible suffering.
A slow death by strangulation - or even near decapitation in some cases - is bad enough. But snares do not only capture animals by the neck. Some animals get their legs caught in snares, and end up with the snare cutting down to the bone. Such animals may attempt to escape by gnawing off their own limbs. Other animals are caught around the body. Both badgers and foxes have been found with snares that have almost cut them in half, the snares around their bodies having tightened to around five centimetres in diameter. Some of these animals were still alive when found.
The daily checking of snares ought to prevent prolonged suffering of those animals which are caught and injured by them. However, there have been many occasions where it is clear that snares have not been checked daily - or even weekly. The discovery of long-dead corpses with snares around their necks, legs or bodies is not uncommon. These animals will have died either as a direct result of their injuries, or by infection of their wounds or even by starvation.
The suffering caused to animals by snares is unimaginable - and wholly unacceptable.
Outlawing self-locking snares alone is not enough
Under the law as it stands, the use of self-locking snares is illegal. However, as we have seen, even free-running snares can cause tremendous suffering. This is only part of the problem however.
Even if it was to be accepted that free-running snares do not on the whole cause as much suffering as self-lockers, there remains the difficulty of defining a free-running snare. Dual purpose snares can easily be converted into self lockers. And now there are newer types of snares, which are known to have maimed and killed badgers, cats, sheep, deer and hares, but which seem to defy classification as either free-running or self-locking. Different 'experts' have different opinions, and the result is a legal minefield when any attempt is made to prosecute a case where animals have been caught in these snares.