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A New Approach Using Humane Cable Restraints

Nature is in crisis. According to the latest State of Nature Report, some 11% of species in Scotland have been classified as ‘threatened with extinction’ using IUCN Red List criteria.


In Scotland, predation is a contributing factor when it comes to species decline. For some red-listed ground nesting birds – such as capercaillie, black grouse, lapwing, curlew, woodcock, hen harrier and merlin – vulnerability to predation is especially high, and is often the driver behind poor breeding outcomes. 


Managing predation is therefore of pivotal importance. With no natural predators, species like the red fox pose a dangerous threat to the survival of these iconic species. Yet in the last year the toolkit for managing predation by foxes has been steadily eroded by the Scottish Government. 


One such tool now in the firing line is the snare. Land managers accept that Scotland’s existing code-compliant snare has limitations. It has been superseded by a new device – the humane cable restraint – which has met international humaneness standards, and has characteristics that protect animal welfare as well as reducing the likelihood of non-target catch.

In this film, we hear from a gamekeeper who depends on humane cable restraints to manage predation. Without them, he fears that it will be impossible to control foxes on the estate, and thus the estate’s operation would likely be subject to change. He believes jobs would be put at risk as a result, not to mention the breeding birds that are dependent on the management of predators. There are many land managers in a similar position.

We call on the Scottish Government to retain humane cable restraints under licence from NatureScot to conserve vulnerable species and protect livestock. Failure to do so is likely to have irreversible implications for Scotland’s iconic wildlife and the rural economy.

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