GE2015 Day Two: Snares

If you read my introduction blog you’ll know that throughout this week, running up to the general election, I am doing a blog a day about some key issues which affect wildlife in the UK and in some cases on a world wide scale. As I only have six days and I’m currently taking my GCSEs I’ve only been able to include six topics but of course there are many more. With these blogs I hope to show people the problems our wildlife faces, what we can do, who it affects, what will happen if we don’t address the problem, see if there’s been any mentions in party manifestos and much more! I’m also trying to exaggerate the fact that we should be voting for nature and the environment. Along with sending the posts to party leaders, MPs etc. It’s key that we address problems facing wildlife now so it’s not too late as when it is too late we’ll be in serious trouble.

Unfortunately there are many ways that people have the opportunity to persecute and discriminate the wildlife in our countryside, whether it be legal or illegal. This doesn’t just happen in the UK though, it happens all over the world. You would think a terrible device, which can chew through the limbs and bones of those animals which get caught in them, would be illegal. However that isn’t the case, free running snares are legal while self-locking snares are illegal. A free running snare is supposed to slacken when the animal stops struggling, while a self-locking snare can only become tighter. However, these terms are not clearly defined and a rusted, kinked, or knotted snare quickly becomes self-locking. Either way they cause extreme suffering to animals and often a painful, lingering death.

As you have probably guessed the aim of this post is express that fact that snares should be banned altogether, free running and self locking.

What is a snare and what are they supposed to be used for?

Snares are thin wire nooses which are set to trap wild animals perceived to be a pest or threat. They are usually made of steel, or sometimes brass, stranded wire. The aim of a snare is to allow the target animal’s head to enter then as it moves forward the noose becomes tighter. Their actual use, in the UK, isn’t to kill the animal but to capture and restrain the animal until a person can attend and humanely kill it. In Britain, they’re largely used by gamekeepers to control fox numbers and also used to a lesser extent by farmers and landowners to control rabbits. Snares are usually set up along runs or pathways thought to be used by the target species. They are also sometimes placed over the entrances to rabbit burrows or fox earth. Defra estimated that nearly 6,000 landholders use fox snares across England and Wales, and rabbit snares are used over 1,500.

 The suffering

If a snare is attached to a 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 if causes serious injury. Snares have also been found positioned on the top of walls or banks, so that when they catch their victims, the animals fall and are hung to death. Even when a free-running snare is set properly the wire can easily become kinked or tangles 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 nooses to cut through the animal’s skin and into its flesh, causing terrible suffering.

A slow death by strangulation is bad enough but snares do not only capture the animals by the necks. Some animals get their legs caught in snares and end up with the snare cutting down in 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.

There are always stories in the news about snares, here are a few recent ones

Peak District estate under pressure to remove snares after spate of injuries

Stoke-on-Trent badger “strangled to death” in Fegg Hayes snare

Cats caught in homemade snares at St Athan, RSPCA warns

As you can see snares are awful things which cause animals to suffer incredibly. In my opinion, they should of been banned years ago. The UK is the one of the only countries in Europe where they’re still legal.

Manifestos

When looking through all the manifestos there was no mention of banning snares except for from the Green Party. It said they will end the use of snares. It’s very disappointing that the Greens are the only party which say they will ban the use of snares.

wpid-wp-1430471630200.jpeg

We Will Not Be Silenced

As you most likely know the general election is approaching fast, in fact just 10 days away. It is becoming very tense as the current polls are close. However it’s not just tense for us Humans, it’s also very tense for our wildlife and animals. Although they can’t vote we need to vote for them, give them the voice they need.

Unfortunately, as I’m 16, I can’t vote but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been interested in the parties manifestos, their campaigning but also the other campaigning that’s been going on. In fact, when I’ve been able to, I’ve been getting involved with the campaigns. From getting involved on social media and supporting thunderclaps to doing blog posts, writing letters to local party candidates and getting involved with protests.

One protest which caught my eye this week was the suffragette-themed march on Parliament to launch the “Votes for Animals” campaign where a variety of organisations, charities and individuals got together. They proceeded the streets of London with their striking masks, costumes and signs with their main aim of giving animals a voice and encourage the public to vote for animals on May 7th. You can read more about the Vote for Animal protest in London by clicking here.

Yesterday though was another day where I went out and helped do my part to give nature a voice. I was up nice and early as I had two trains to catch and was very excited for the day ahead. I was off to join the badger army and wildlife defenders for their march in the streets of Worcester. Once we arrived in Worcester we went for a quick coffee then headed down to St. Andrews Park where the march began. This was my second march, the last one I went on was back in February and took place on the streets of Birmingham. The one in Birmingham was more of a festival as there were more speakers and stalls, you can read more about it by clicking here. It was also brilliant to go yesterday after the Badger Trust Seminar in Bristol last weekend as it great to see some familiar faces. By 1pm there was a good crowd of a few hundred people and everyone was ready to go. There was people dressed up, plenty of signs and flags, megaphones, hats and much more. It was pretty obvious that it was going to be a successful protest.

But before we could begin addressing the streets of Worcester there was three speeches. First was the main organiser, Chris Swan, who spoke about the fact that there is still the worry of badgers being culled, the threat badgers face and also read out a poem about badger persecution which had been wrote a hundred years ago but in many ways applies to today’s world. The second to speak was Lynn Sawyer who has done inspirational work over the past 12 months which resulted in 100’s of badgers life’s saved. She spoke about the fantastic work of hunt and cull saboteurs, the importance of looking out for local setts and read a book extract about the fact that Btb travels on the feet of those horses, humans and hounds. Then before the march began Nigel Tolley spoke. He is a very active member of badger army and a great wildlife activist. He spoke about the fact that even if the cull does stop, depending on who gets into power on May 7th, there is still the major problem of badger persecution. He stated that over 2000 badgers are killed every month throughout the UK which is well over the amount killed in the culls. He also spoke about how we need to encourage people to go out, recognise and report wildlife crime.

After these two talks the march was raring to go. There was a set route through Worcester, which we followed. Everyone was shouting either ‘Save our Badgers, Stop the Cull’ or ‘Save our Badgers, Tories out’. It was such a brilliant atmosphere, everyone was so passionate and determined to get the message across. Signs and flags were high in the air, leaflets were being handed out and stuck everywhere, and the shouting echoed down the high street. There was no doubt that we were making our mark and spreading the message. We then stopped outside of the Guild Hall where three more people spoke. The first was the Labour candidate for the area, then the Green candidate. They both spoke about the policies of their party. One of the common policies was putting a stop to the barbaric unscientific badger cull.

Before getting started again Dominic Dyer, wildlife campaigner, gave a speech. Over the past few months I’ve heard him talk a number of times and what he says is always very inspirational. He stood up on a park bench with a megaphone and spoke about a number of issues. From the badger cull to wildlife crime. He also stated that we will not be silenced.

As I heard a few times yesterday, to be able to protest in Worcester yesterday it took a lot of hard work from the organisers. This is partly due to the election approaching and in different ways it’s jeopardising the chance for parties to win seats because the badger cull, and wildlife crime, is among a key issue for many politicians.

We were then back to the protest through the high street in Worcester, feeling more passionate and enthused after more inspirational speeches. On our way back to St. Andrews Park we passed the Lush store in Worcester which had a few signs outside and their window display was about the ‘Votes for Animals’ campaign. This was another great feature to the protest.

Once back at St.Andrews Park all those on the protest stood together for a photo. It made a fantastic photo as it showed everyone’s passion and willingness to be there. Then with the outfits, masks, hats and signs it showed what we all stood for.

Here are a few photos from the day.

IMG_1344

IMG_1347

IMG_1353

IMG_1358

IMG_1366

IMG_1370IMG_1371  IMG_1385

IMG_1387

IMG_1379