A HOLYROOD committee has backed plans to ban the use of snares in Scotland, with environment minister Gillian Martin telling MSPs the devices cause “unacceptable levels of suffering” for animals.

She said banning snares will not stop estates carrying out “necessary wildlife management” as there are “alternative methods” that can be used to control predators.

But Scottish Land and Estates (SLE), which represents landowners and rural businesses, claimed the move will have an “enduring negative impact” on some threatened bird populations.

It had previously suggested a licensing scheme could be set up to allow for snares to continue to be used. 

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It also lobbied for "humane cable restraints" not to be included in the ban - a move wildlife campaigners dismissed as an attempt to "hoodwink" MSPs. 

Ross Ewing, SLE's director of moorland, made clear the body remains “strongly opposed” to the ban.

Ewing spoke out after MSPs on Holyrood’s Rural Affairs Committee backed an amendment to the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill to ban the devices.

It will come into force if the Scottish Parliament as a whole approves the legislation.

Martin said: “This Parliament can no longer ignore the weight of evidence that snares lead to unacceptable levels of suffering, not just for wild animals, but for domestic animals which can also become trapped in them.

“I recognise that control of predators is necessary in order to protect vulnerable species, as well as livestock and agriculture.

The National: Many landowners use snares to reduce the number of foxes on their estatesMany landowners use snares to reduce the number of foxes on their estates (Image: NQ)

“But I am confident that a ban on the use of snares would not prevent anyone from undertaking necessary wildlife management and that there are still sufficient alternative methods of predator control that can be used.”

Martin added that the Government had paid “close attention” to both evidence and the views of relevant organisations before coming forward with its amendment.

But Ewing said: “We remain strongly opposed to the minister’s amendment which will prohibit snaring and the use of humane cable restraints.

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“Scotland has already lost nearly half of its historic land-based biodiversity and there will be an enduring negative impact on red-listed ground nesting birds and other biodiversity as a direct consequence of this decision.

“It is not by accident that many of their last remaining strongholds are in areas where active predator control – including the use of humane cable restraints – is taking place.”

He insisted that if the bill is to proceed, MSPs must “ensure that it is not a flawed piece of legislation”.

Meanwhile, RSPB Scotland said the bill must act as "meaningful deterrent" to wildlife crime.