Page last updated at 11:26 GMT, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Countryside 'cowboys' warned off

Fox in a snare
Mr Russell hopes the move may help keep criminals out of the countryside

Environment Minister Mike Russell has been in the Borders to launch a guide to best practice in the use of snares.

The document has been produced after consultation with a number of rural groups across the country.

Mr Russell said he hoped a guide to the "legitimate form of pest control" would help to keep "cowboys and criminals" away from the countryside.

The Scottish Gamekeepers' Association (SGA) welcomed the move to achieve the "best outcomes for rural Scotland".

Mr Russell visited the Newtown St Boswells campus of Borders College to launch the guide - Snaring in Scotland: a practitioners' guide.

He said he hoped it could bring an end to the improper use of snares.

Snares have the potential to inflict severe injuries on animals and can often be responsible for painful and lingering deaths
Advocates for Animals spokeswoman

"When done properly, snaring is a legitimate form of pest control," he said.

"However, we are determined that those who use snares illegally and indiscriminately will be vigorously pursued and punished, and will bring forward new legal regulations shortly.

"Taken together these measures will, I hope, drive the cowboys and criminals out of interfering in the countryside."

SGA chairman Alex Hogg said his group had worked hard to help produce the guide.

"Collectively, we are focused on using education, accreditation and the latest technology as part of our balanced and reasonable approach to wildlife management in Scotland's countryside," he said.

"We are determined to work with the Scottish Government in achieving the best outcomes for rural Scotland and its communities.

"Working with the minister to see the new snaring guide launched underlines our determination to find constructive solutions for countryside issues."

Predator risk

Animal rights group Advocates for Animals said it was disappointed the guide had been put together without consulting any welfare organisation.

"Snares have the potential to inflict severe injuries on animals and can often be responsible for painful and lingering deaths," said a spokeswoman.

"Once an animal is trapped in a snare it can suffer from dehydration, starvation and distress as well as being at a higher risk from other predators."

She added that they did not believe codes of practice were enough to tackle the problems surrounding snaring.

"There are already industry codes in existence, but the suffering inflicted by snares continues," she said.

"Thousands of members of the Scottish public have shown this year that they find this unacceptable."

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