Wildlife management: consultation

We are consulting on proposals relating to: introducing a licensing scheme for grouse shooting; increased regulation for muirburn (the burning of vegetation to maintain moorland); banning the use of glue traps; and increased regulation of other wildlife traps.

Part 3: Trapping and snaring

3.1 Wildlife traps


The use of traps is governed by several pieces of legislation in Scotland including:

The legislation specifies which traps can be used to kill or capture animals and sets out any additional conditions governing their use such as prohibiting the use of certain traps for individual species or placing requirements on trap operators. For example, under the 1981 Act operators of crow cage traps and Larsen traps are also required to register with NatureScot and must display a single tag or sign that shows the NatureScot Trap Registration Number which allows the individual operator to be identified.

The Werritty report recommended that:

  • "New legislation should be introduced to make it a legal requirement that it becomes an offence to set or operate a trap without an operator having successfully completed a course run by an approved and accredited body and dealing with the relevant category of trap (cage and/or spring).";
  • "A trap operator who has successfully completed a relevant trap training course should apply to their local police station for a unique identification number which must be attached to all traps that are set."; and
  • "That any operator dealing with the relevant category of trap (cage and/or spring) should undergo refresher training at least once every ten years."

Scottish Government Proposals

The Scottish Government accepted this recommendation, committing to amend legislation to strengthen the use and monitoring of traps.

To fulfil this commitment, we are proposing to make it a requirement that anyone must satisfy certain conditions if wishing to use the following types of traps:

  • Live capture bird traps;
  • Live capture mammal traps (except for traps that are used or intended to be used to capture mammals in indoor settings); and
  • Traps regulated by the Spring Traps Approval Order (STAO)

The conditions to be met are as follows:

  • complete training by an approved body (list of approved bodies to be determined by NatureScot);
  • register with NatureScot for a unique ID number;
  • display this unique ID number on each trap they use using a non-transferable ID tag or another other form of permanent ID marking;
  • undergo refresher training every 10 years; and
  • keep a record of the traps they deploy and make those records available to Police Scotland if requested.

We are proposing that a person found guilty of the offence of:

  • using a trap without valid training from an approved body;
  • using a trap without being registered to do so;
  • using a trap without displaying an identification number correctly on the trap;
  • falsifying records or identification number;
  • using a trap on land without landowner permission;
  • failing to comply with the duty to keep trapping records

will be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (or both). A level 5 fine is currently £5,000.

These penalties are in line with the penalties for snaring and other comparable wildlife offences.

3.2 Glue traps


Glue traps (sometimes known as sticky boards or glue boards) are devices used for a variety of purposes. The glue traps work by placing them along areas where rats and mice are likely to frequent. Once the animal steps onto the board it is then firmly stuck to it and is unable to free itself. Once an animal is captured the intention is that the glue trap can be retrieved and the animal dispatched.


The use of glue to trap birds is an offence under the 1981 Act. There is currently no legislation governing the use of glue trap boards to catch rodents in Scotland. However, should an animal be caught in one, then they immediately fall under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 since the animal is now under the control of man. This means, among other things, that it is an offence to cause the animal unnecessary suffering by an act or omission if the person knew or ought reasonably to have known that the act or omission would have caused the suffering or be likely to do so. Operators of glue traps should humanely dispatch any target species caught, or extricate and release, or if necessary, humanely destroy any non-target species accidently caught.

Scottish Animal Welfare Commission report

In response to concerns raised by animal welfare groups and by individuals petitioning the Scottish Parliament about the welfare implications of glue traps, the Scottish Government sought advice from the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC).

The use of rodent glues traps in Scotland was published on 23 March 2021. The report found that:

  • "There is no way that glue traps can be used without causing animal suffering."
  • "[glue traps pose] an undeniable risk of capture of non-target species. However, without knowing how frequently glue traps are used it is not possible to quantify that risk."
  • "There are public health concerns in certain high-risk situations that clearly require effective and rapid pest control in order to reduce the spread of disease. However, the Commission is not convinced that evidence exists supporting the view that glue traps are genuinely the only method of last resort."

Given these findings the SAWC recommended that:

"…the animal welfare issues connected with the use of glue traps would justify an immediate outright ban on their sale and use. This is our preferred recommendation."

However, the commission also acknowledged the views expressed by some pest control agencies that "in some cases there is no alternative to the use of glue traps as a last resort".

Therefore, the SAWC report further recommends that if a full ban is not introduced, the Scottish Government should consider an immediate ban on the sale of glue traps to the general public and the introduction of an interim licensing regime governing the use of glue traps by professional pest controllers.

The purpose of the interim licensing regime, which the commission recommend should be reviewed after 3 years, would be to allow further research into the development and use of alternative methods of rodent control, before a full ban was brought in.

Following the publication of the SAWC's report, on 20 January 2022, in response to a parliamentary question Màiri McAllan, Minister for the Environment and Land Reform announced that the Scottish Government would "introduce legislation to ban glue traps in this parliamentary term".

Scottish Government Proposals

The Government has accepted the SAWC's recommendations. We are proposing introducing a comprehensive ban on the use of glue traps by both members of the public and professional pest controllers. We are also proposing introducing a ban on the sale of rodent glue traps in Scotland, provided that this can be achieved under the terms of the Internal Market Act, which was brought in by the UK Government in 2020.

In-line with the recommendations made by the SAWC that there should be an outright ban on the use and sale of glue traps we are not proposing the introduction of a licensing regime for professional pest controllers.

We are proposing that there will be a 2 year transition period between the legislation being passed and the ban on the use (and sale) of glue traps coming into force. This is to allow a reasonable period for businesses who use and sell glue traps to develop, trial and source alternative methods of rodent control.

3.3 Snaring

For the purpose of this consultation a "snare" means a thin wire noose used for catching and/or restraining a wild animal, such as a fox or a rabbit, for the purpose of wildlife management.

Under section 11 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (the "1981 Act") the Scottish Government is required to undertake a review of the regulations governing snaring every 5 years.

The last statutory review was completed in February 2022 and the report and recommendations were published on the Scottish Government website 1st April 2022.


The use of traps and snares to manage wildlife is governed by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (the "1981" Act") (as amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 (the "2011 Act")). Those regulations require snaring operators to be trained, for their snares to be identified by a tag containing an ID number registered with NatureScot and for them to keep records, which have to be made available to Police Scotland on request. Operators of crow cage traps and Larsen traps are also required to register with NatureScot and must display a single tag or sign that shows the NatureScot registration number.

Under section 11 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (the "1981 Act") the Scottish Government is required to undertake a review of the regulations governing snaring every 5 years.


The key piece of legislation governing the use of snares in Scotland is set out in section 11 of the 1981 Act. This provision lists a number of methods of killing, capturing, or injuring wild animals that are prohibited generally. This includes a prohibition on setting in position any self-locking snare which is of such a nature and so placed as to be calculated to cause bodily injury to any wild animal coming into contact with it.

All snaring operators are required to complete a training course and obtain a unique identification number from Police Scotland. All set snares must be fitted with an identification tag containing the snaring operator's identification number, this will also identify the target species. Operators must also keep records of all the snares they have set, including the location of the snare, when it was set, and any animal caught in it.

A total of 3,207 people have successfully completed snare training and 1,877 of these have registered with Police Scotland and received a snaring identification number.

The 1981 Act requires the fitting of effective stops on snares to prevent the noose closing too far; the action of the snare must be checked every 24 hours to ensure that it is free running; the setting of snares near features that could cause unnecessary suffering are prohibited; and all snares must be securely anchored so that they cannot be dragged away by a snared animal.

The Animals and Wildlife Penalties, Protections and Powers Act 2020 was passed in June 2020 and extends vicarious liability to offences involving the illegal setting of traps and snares.

Other relevant legislation includes:

Welfare Concerns

Many animal welfare groups, including the Scottish Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals have called for snares to be banned on animal welfare grounds. The Scottish Government recognises that there is the potential for snares to cause significant injury or death to wildlife. There is also a risk that non-target wildlife species and pet animals such as cats and dogs can be caught in them. However, land managers argue that their continued use should be allowed on the basis that they are an essential tool needed for the control of some species, such as rabbits and foxes in order to protect livestock and crops.

During General Question Time at the Scottish Parliament on 25 November 2021, the Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform, confirmed in response to a question from Colin Smyth MSP in relation to the Grouse Moor Management Review Group recommendations, that the Scottish Government would extend the scope of the snaring review to include a potential ban on snares in Scotland.

Statutory Review of snaring

The main recommendations of the 2022 statutory snaring review were as follows:

  • The outstanding recommendations from the Snaring Review undertaken in 2017 should be introduced as soon as a suitable legislative route can be taken. *
  • Given the continuing concerns regarding the welfare of animals caught in snares, a wider review of snaring should be undertaken as soon as is practicable.

* The 2017 Snaring review made a number of recommendations of which the following require legislative amendments:

  • "the Scottish Government to consider the merit of amending legislation to require operators to update records at least once every 48 hours unless they have a reasonable excuse not to do so, and to submit records to the Police on demand if the Police arrive at the location where the records are kept, or within 7 days to a police station.
  • "Furthermore that consideration is given to the introduction of the power of disqualification for a snaring offence, in line with section 1 of the WCA regarding the use of general licences to control birds.
  • "Consideration should also be given on how a strengthened Code of Practice can be better endorsed through legislation in a manner comparable with how the WANE (Scotland) Act 2011 (section 15) applies the Code of Practice for Non-Natives."

A disqualification order can stop you from owning, keeping, selling, transporting or working with animals or running a service which involves being in charge of animals.

Further review of snaring

As recommended by the Statutory Snaring Review Group, the Scottish Government is currently undertaking a wider review of snaring which will consider the wider welfare implications of snaring included whether there should be a ban on the use of snares

The Scottish Government is therefore not setting out formal proposals to amend the snaring regulations at this this stage. Instead we seeking your views on the recommendations of the statutory snaring review, namely:

  • A power of disqualification will be introduced for snaring offences. This power will reflect section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act regarding the use of general licences to control birds.

Depending on the outcome of the wider snaring review we may undertake further consultation on additional proposals to amend the legislation governing the use of snares, at a later date.


Email: wildlifemanagementconsultation2022@gov.scot

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