Charity battles Stormont plan to allow 'gruesome' snaring to continue
Thousands of animals will continue to face gruesome deaths if the Environment Minister rubber stamps a controversial law that allows animals to be caught in snares, a charity has warned.
Animal welfare campaigners have called for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to introduce an outright ban of snares.
It comes as the department's committee is expected to hear evidence from officials regarding the Snares Order, to regulate their use, on Thursday.
It was withdrawn last year by former Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, following a public outcry for an outright ban.
However, DUP minister Michelle McIlveen has said she intends to complete the legislative process, and has described snares as "an effective and practical means" of protecting farm animals and game birds from predators.
But the League Against Cruel Sports said thousands of animals - including pet dogs and cats - remain in danger of "gruesome, drawn-out deaths".
Spokeswoman Janice Watt said: "If you put a wire noose out in a field, animals will suffer. Snares are crude wire nooses that are used to trap animals.
"This box ticking exercise will not stop wildlife and pets being maimed, or prevent agonising, drawn-out deaths from snares. The reality is that snares are indiscriminate, inefficient and prone to misuse."
According to official figures, up to 75% of the animals trapped are non-target species, meaning badgers, hares, otters, and family pets are caught.
Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt described snares as the most "inhumane" way an animal can die, although he stopped short of calling for an outright ban.
"The main purpose of the proposed Snares Order is to supplement existing restrictions on when and how snares can be used," he said. "This cannot come a day too early in order to alleviate the suffering of animals, which is currently exacerbated as they struggle."