Snaring and the law

Snaring and the law varies depending on which country within the United Kingdom you’re in.  Below is what we understand to be the current situation.


Whilst the use of snares is covered by a voluntary Code of Practice, that code of practice is written for snaring foxes.  In a bushcraft context we’re concerned with food acquisition so it’s extremely unlikely that a fox would be the target species.  So whilst the Code of Practice is useful,  be sure to adhere to lawful restrictions under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

This makes it an offence to set in position any trap or snare which is intended to cause bodily injury to any wild animal or to use a trap or snare for the purpose of killing such a wild animal included in Schedule 6 of the 1981 Act – i.e. so-called ‘non-target’ protected species like badger, otter, red squirrel, hedgehog, pine marten and polecat.

The snaring of any protected species is not permitted unless that person has been issued a specific licence under section 16 of the 1981 Act.

DEFRA guidelines for catching rabbits with snares

It is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to a rabbit caught in a trap or snare.

You can use cage traps, drop box traps or spring traps.  You must:

  • Only use free-running snares in good working condition which relax when the animal is captured,
  • Check traps and snares once a day,
  • Kill humanely any rabbits you catch,
  • Release all other animals unharmed – except grey squirrels and mink, which you must kill humanely.

You must not use:

  • Snares where rabbits would be exposed to severe weather,
  • Snares or traps if weather conditions are likely to stop you from inspecting them once a day,
  • Snares near a fox earth, a badger sett or where badgers are present,
  • Self-locking snares,
  • Snares that could allow rabbits to become fully or partially suspended, entangled, drowned or strangled.

snaring and the law | bushcraft

Northern Ireland

Snaring is covered by The Snares Order (Northern Ireland) 2015.


Wales was the first country in the United Kingdom to ban the use of snares on 17th October 2023.  Anyone caught using a snare could face an unlimited fine, prison, or both.


In March 2024, Holyrood passed the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill which included a full ban on the use of snares making it “an offence to use a snare to trap a wild animal, or in any way that is likely to injure a wild animal”.

We discuss snaring and the law on our 5 Day IOL Bushcraft Competency Diploma course, although we don’t set any snares as part of the course.

You can see loads of photos from that course, as well as all the rest of the fantastic courses that we run, on our Facebook page.

About Gary

Lead Instructor at Jack Raven Bushcraft, teaching bushcraft, wilderness and survival skills to groups and individuals.

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