OneKind calls for changes in law after ‘totally unacceptable’ suffering of snared fox.
In September 2014, the OneKind field officer visited the Glenogil sporting estate in Angus to look for legal snares, as part of our ongoing campaign to expose the cruelty of these primitive, indiscriminate traps. He knew that there were snares on the estate, as a local contact had told him of finding a dead deer in a snare a few weeks previously.
Following a line of snares from the place where the deer had lain, the field officer came upon a scene of appalling animal suffering. His report stated:
“A few feet away from where the deer had been snared, I saw another snare which was open and set to catch an animal. This snare was set on a natural animal track running alongside the outer edge of a forest. Further along the track was another set snare and then I saw yet another set snare further along from that.
“Shortly after discovering these set snares we saw a dead fox which had been caught in a snare. It looked like a fox cub from this year and the snare had caught the animal around the abdomen area. The fox appeared to have rigor mortis.
“As we stood by the dead fox we noticed another fox about fifteen meters away. It was struggling and we could see that it had been also caught around the abdomen by a snare.”
The live fox was clearly distressed with a large wound where the snare had cut into its flesh.
The witnesses called the Scottish SPCA and in due course an Inspector arrived and administered a lethal injection. Even so, the fox’s suffering continued as the drug was slow to take effect. To make matters worse, gamekeepers had arrived and a confrontation took place, with the head gamekeeper implying that the OneKind field officer and the local contacts must have set the snares themselves.
The Scottish SPCA investigated and in August 2015 William Curr, the gamekeeper responsible for the snares, was charged with failing to inspect the snare which had killed a deer and failing to keep a record of finding a deer in a snare. It was also alleged that he failed to check another snare for more than 24 hours, during which time a fox became trapped and died of dehydration.
Once in the legal pipeline, there were further delays, with hearings postponed to give the defence more time to prepare its case. This was frustrating, but justice must be seen to be done, and we waited patiently for the case to be heard. Eventually, a full trial date was set for Monday 9 May at Forfar Sheriff Court.
And then, last Thursday (10 March) the Crown Office informed the Court and the witnesses that it was not going to proceed with the case. OneKind has not, as yet, been able to ascertain the reason for this decision.
OneKind is mystified by the dropping of this case, given the eye witness evidence, the horrific video footage and the detailed follow-up investigation carried out by the Scottish SPCA. This was a shocking incident where at least six people, including gamekeepers, witnessed the terror and pain of a live fox as the wire noose of a snare sliced into its abdomen. Had our research officer not been on the estate on that particular day, who knows how much longer the fox would have continued to suffer?
To put this dreadful story in the wider context: snares are still legal in Scotland and the rest of the UK. It is simply intolerable that the suffering this fox endured should be considered legally acceptable. The video footage is utterly harrowing and illustrates an animal which is clearly distressed, both physically and mentally. OneKind has long called for an outright ban on all snares and sadly we feel these calls have been justified by this case.
OneKind will seek an explanation for the failure of the Scottish justice system to bring this animal welfare case to court.