Traps, Snares & Nets
Traps & Snares
The control of certain animal species is a legal part of farming and game management, and sometimes appropriate in the conservation of species at risk, in particular groundnesting birds. All methods are controlled by law and while most people stay within the law, there are still abuses through ignorance or intent.
A licence or permission under the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2012 is required to hunt wild birds and protected wild animals. A licence is not required to hunt a wild animal that is not protected under the Wildlife Acts (e.g. rats and mice)
However, whether a wild bird or wild animal is protected or not it is unlawful to hunt it with any trap, snare or net other than those approved of by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for the purposes of the Wildlife Acts, 1976 to 2012.
The Minister has declared the following traps, snares and nets to be approved for the purposes of the Wildlife Acts:
(a) (i) a cage or net trap designed to capture alive wild birds or wild animals, and
(ii) a spring trap which is not a *gin trap and which is designed to secure either –
(i) the immediate death, or
(ii) the immediate unconsciousness and subsequent death without intervening consciousness of wild birds or wild animals which it is designed to trap
*a gin trap is a device designed to restrain or capture an animal by means of jaws which close tightly upon one or more of the animal’s limbs thereby preventing withdrawal of the limb or limbs from the trap
(b) a stop snare with a minimum length from noose to stop of 33 cm, when it is intended to snare foxes, and 16.5 cm, when it is intended to snare rabbits, and which complies with the following conditions:
(i) it incorporates a swivel to facilitate twisting,
(ii) it is designed so that when it is used it will be securely tied to a fixed object, and
(iii) it is designed so that, for the purpose of avoiding catching large animals (e.g. deer, cattle or horses) by the leg when it is used, a jump bar, that is to say, a cross-bar at least 60 cm above the ground and supported by a pair of forked sticks not less than 60 cm apart, may also be used,
(c) a stopped body restraint (a snare) which complies with the following conditions:
(i) it is made of multi-strand steel wire 3 mm in width,
(ii) it incorporates a swivel to facilitate twisting,
(iii) it is of a minimum length of 80 cm and intended to trap badgers in accordance with a licence granted for that purpose to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, under section 23 (6) of the Act of the Wildlife Act,1976 as amended
(iv) a metal runner is incorporated at one end of it which shall be 15mm by 3mm
with 2 holes 4mm in diameter, a stop, a swivel and a “D” shackle; a ferrule is to act as the stop and shall be placed 32.5 cm from the end of the restraint to prevent strangulation of a limb or damage to other animals,
(v) it is designed so that when it is in use it will be securely tied to a fixed object,
(d) a net designed to capture wild birds or wild animals
Any person who uses, imports into the State from outside the European Union, or has in his possession other than pursuant to and in accordance with a licence granted by the Minister in that behalf, or who in the course of his trade or business sells or offers for sale a trap, snare or net other than a trap, snare or net which the Minister has declared to be approved of for the purposes of the Wildlife Acts shall be guilty of an offence.
Wildlife Licensing Unit,
National Parks and Wildlife Service,
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht,
90 King Street North,
LoCall 1890 383 000
It is unlawful to
- use, for the purpose of hunting, repelling or scaring any wild bird or any wild animal, any live wild bird or live wild animal which is tethered or secured by braces or other similar appliance or which is confined in a cage or pen or which is blind, maimed or injured, or
- use, as a decoy for the purpose of hunting any wild bird or any wild animal, any live wild animal or live bird
However, the use of hooded (grey) crows and magpies as live decoys in cage traps to trap other hooded crows and magpies is allowed where the Minister is of the opinion that they represent a threat to public health or are likely to cause serious damage to crops, livestock or are likely to cause damage to other fauna, pursuant to the European Communities (Wildlife Act, 1976) (Amendment) Regulations 1986. (E.C. Derogations)
The use of hooded crows and magpies as live decoys in cage traps is subject to the following conditions
- the bird shall be so used only for hunting birds of the same species
- the bird while being so used shall be regularly provided with ample food and water
- the bird while being so used shall only be kept in a cage which is of sufficient dimensions to enable it to move and exercise freely
Note: given that a hooded crow has a wing span of 1 metre, a cage where it is kept as a live decoy would have to be significantly larger than 1 metre to allow it to move and exercise freely
Prosecutions are taken for:
Sale / possession / use of / importation from outside the E.U.; traps, snares and nets which are not approved for the purpose of the Wildlife Acts
Glue traps and lime-sticks are ILLEGAL
Glue traps are not approved of for the purposes of the W/L Acts in Ireland and therefore their possession and use is illegal. Their usual form is a synthetic adhesive (glue) applied to a cardboard, plastic trays or other similar material. They are mainly used to traps rodents, which usually die a lingering and gruesome death when they become stuck in the glue. NPWS has taken prosecutions for possession ,sale and use of glue traps
Lime-sticks are twigs, about a metre long, which are covered in an extremely sticky ‘glue’ substance. These sticks are strategically placed to provide very inviting perches for birds. Any bird landing on a lime-stick becomes stuck, falls upside down, and as it flutters to free itself it becomes progressively more attached to the stick.
Leg hold traps e.g. Gin traps are ILLEGAL
A gin trap is a device designed to restrain or capture an animal by means of jaws which close tightly upon one or more of the animal’s limbs thereby preventing withdrawal of the limb or limbs from the trap.
Pole traps are ILLEGAL
The term “pole trap” refers to a spring trap fastened to the top of a pole and used to kill birds of prey. In the past small circular gin traps were sold for that purpose. Of course gin traps are now illegal but legal traps like fenn traps are sometimes illegally used for this purpose. Birds of prey are very attracted to perching on solitary poles – even with a pole trap on top.
Any person who affixes, places or sets a trap, calculated or likely to cause death or bodily injury to any wild bird coming in contact with it, on any tree, pole, cairn or other structure shall be guilty of an offence
Please bear in mind the National Anti Snaring Campaign is a Uk organisation so the legislation referred to is not exactly the same as it is in Ireland, and contact details are for organisations in the UK
“Badgers are captured under licence issued by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht where they are implicated in an outbreak of TB. ..
Badgers are captured using a specifically designed stopped-body restraint by trained Farm Relief Service contractors, monitored and supervised by DAFM staff. The restraints used in the capture of badgers are approved under Section 34 of the 1976 Wildlife Act and are specifically designed with a ‘stop’ so as not to tighten beyond a predetermined point and so will not cause death by strangulation. All restraints are monitored daily and any badgers are removed within a maximum of 24 hours of capture. A condition of the licence granted is that restraints are checked before noon the next day. Capturing of badgers is not permitted during the months of January, February and March in new capture areas.” (DAHG)
The ‘End of Year Report for DAFMs Wildlife Unit for 2018’ notes that 5,614 badgers were ‘captured and removed’ (killed) during 2018 which is similar to the 5,835 total for 2017.
Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, issued a Press Release on 15th January, 2018 announcing that vaccination of badgers against tuberculosis (TB) would commence as an integral part of the bovine TB eradication programme from January 2018.
Photos of the DAFM ‘stopped-body restraint’ (snare) can be seen on Badgerwatch Ireland’s newsletter
For m ore info on Badgers and TB visit Badgerwatch Ireland
For further info re Approved equipment see
section 32(3) of the Wildlife Act, 1976 as amended by section 40 of the Wildlife (Amendment)Act 2000
and section 34 of the Wildlife Act, 1976 as amended by section 42 of the Wildlife (Amendment)Act 2000
and the Wildlife Act,1976 (Approved Traps, snares and nets) Regulations 2003
For further info re Use of live decoys see
section 35 of the Wildlife Act, 1976 as amended by section 43 of the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000
and the Ministers declarations pursuant to the European Communities (Wildlife Act, 1976)(Amendment) Regulations 1986
Recording evidence at the Crime Scene
Assessing whether a criminal offence has taken place may not always be straight forward and other possibilities such as natural deaths, predation and legal hunting should be considered.
If you come across a wildlife crime scene or a dead bird or object that may be related to a wildlife crime, every piece of information is – or might be – important, but it needs to be recorded properly and accurately for the authorities to have a chance of prosecuting an offender.
Before you do anything else it is very important that:
- You do NOT put yourself in danger by approaching anyone you suspect of committing a crime – they may be violent and/or aggressive.
- You do NOT touch any dead birds or animals. They may be poisoned baits or victims of poisoning. Many poisons (e.g. Carbofuran) are extremely dangerous to us as well as wildlife in even very small amounts and can be absorbed through the skin.
- You do NOT disturb the scene by walking around unnecessarily – small pieces of evidence (cigarette ends, footprints, the marks left by a spade etc) may be lost or trampled into the mud or grass.
- You do NOT move any items at the scene – unless asked to do so or an animal or human”s welfare is/may be compromised by leaving it at the scene.
- You do NOT mark the site (e.g. with a white plastic bag) Although being able to see a marker from a distance might sound like a good idea, it will also alert an offender that someone has been at the site and they might go back and remove evidence.
- You do NOT do anything illegal yourself – leave crime to the criminals!
Record the date and time
- Record the transport
Do this as soon as possible, as suspects can be traced from the registration number
Photograph/write down any vehicle registration numbers that are or might be related to the incident. It is legal to record a registration number if you suspect that the vehicle has been or may be used in a crime.
- Record the person
Recording the offender’s face is important of course, but their clothing, the bags they’re carrying, the equipment they’re using are all important too.
- Record the scene
Take photographs or video of the scene using a mobile phone or camera etc (or make as accurate a sketch as possible).
- If possible try to cover any items, perhaps with vegetation, to make them safe; but make sure you don’t disturb the crime scene in the process!
- If photographing an object, try to put something beside it for scale (e.g. a coin or notebook) providing it won’t disturb the crime scene.
- Record the location
It is particularly important to record locations accurately (apps that provide GPS data are available for most smartphones)
In an urban area note the address or a description of the location. In the countryside take wide angle photographs of any landmarks; a tree, a distinctive fence line, a hill.
- Even if in doubt take a photograph and email it to the National Parks and Wildlife Service firstname.lastname@example.org
Reporting a crime involving traps, snares or nets
To report suspected illegal activity contact the National Parks & Wildlife Service
Tel: 01-888 3242 or LoCall 1890 383 000
For a pdf of contact numbers for your local NPWS Conservation Ranger click HERE
If you can’t reach NPWS personnel call An Garda Síochána:
If the crime is in progress or about to happen, or if the offender is still at the scene or has just left call 999 or 112
If the event is finished then either call your local Garda Station (Garda Stations Directory) or the Garda Confidential Telephone Number 1800 666 111
[Although it will assist the NPWS and Gardaí if you provide as much information as possible, you do not have to give your name if you ring to report an incident.]
|If the bird or mammal involved is alive, also call a wildlife rehabilitator and vet from the contacts page of||Irish Wildlife Matters|
|If you witness any crime involving a badger, also contact||Badgerwatch Ireland|
|If you witness any crime involving a bird, also contact||Birdwatch Ireland|
If you find a live animal caught in a snare
- Call your nearest vet and rehabilitator immediately from the contacts page of Irish Wildlife Matters website www.irishwildlifematters.ie.
- If possible, arrange to meet whoever attends so you can guide them directly to the injured animal.
- Please do not attempt to release the animal yourself; the animal may injure you, it may already be suffering internal damage from the snare that may require veterinary attention and a period of rehabilitation, or worse still it may even escape with the snare still in place, and die a painful slow death.