Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Sunday, 19 October 2008 13:36 UK

Animal snare ban calls resisted

The Protection of Badgers Act makes it an offence to wilfully kill the animals

Environment Minister Michael Russell has defended plans not to outlaw the snaring of animals at the SNP annual conference in Perth.

He had faced pressure from Nationalist delegates to review the decision made in February to tighten laws around the use of snares, but not to ban them.

Christine Graham MSP told the conference that the Government had not gone for enough and called for action.

However, Mr Russell said they were cracking wildlife crime.

South of Scotland SNP MSP Ms Grahame opened the debate on wildlife crime, welcoming government steps to tackle the problem.

Government can be tough, it can be difficult. But we are cracking wildlife crime
Environment Minister Michael Russell

But she was one of three party members to say the government had not gone far enough.

"I oppose the use of snares entirely. I've had this argument with the minister, lost it, but it's not the first I've lost with ministers," she said.

She claimed it was "almost impossible" to police the practice, even with new serial numbers on snares and other measures to stop their illegal use.

She said: "On a day when the rain is coming down in steel rods, there's nobody going out to check snares.

"There's nobody going out to check they're at the right height. There's nobody going out to check the identification tags on them."

She claimed that at least 40 badgers, a protected species, were killed in snares this year.

'Stamp it out'

Ms Grahame also set out a list of further areas she wants targeted in a clamp down on wildlife crime, including cruel transportation of kittens and puppies, licensing of animal sanctuaries and "pet vending" on the internet.

She urged the government to push ahead with legislation, adding: "It's months late Mr Russell, let's get on with it."

Mr Russell said: "I've got lots of things I want to see happen in the field of wildlife crime. I want to stamp it out absolutely.

"But I'm not going to do that if I drive it underground.

"I'm not going to do that if I alienate all those people working in the countryside.

"Government can be tough, it can be difficult. But we are cracking wildlife crime."

He said the recommendations to tighten laws on wildlife crime, including snaring, had not been fully implemented and called for time to gauge results.

Mr Russell told the conference: "Support your government in getting this right."

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