After months of confusion and growing irritation surrounding the new snaring legislation, I finally managed to submit my application for a snaring ID number this evening in the local police station. To be quite honest, the police officer who processed my application was perfectly civil, and even though it was the first time he had filed paperwork like it, he had a certain long-suffering resignation that my forms would be the first of many. This was a huge improvement from the weeks of telephone conversations with police receptionists who didn’t know what snares were, didn’t care when I explained and then tried to get rid of me in the most unpleasant manner possible. I must have spoken to a dozen people across the south of Scotland, none of whom knew a thing about my enquiry and all of whom were keen to give me the impression that I was wasting their time. I phoned police stations and was put through to other police stations who then put me back through to the first police stations; my calls were transferred to people who told me that they thought snares were already banned and passed on to others who weren’t aware of any law relating to foxes.
It has been a chaotic few months, and I must admit that I’m not altogether sure who is benefitting. The police don’t want to do the paperwork, I don’t want to pay them £20 and the people who set illegal snares will carry on as before. As I’ve written before on this blog, the problem with snaring is not the wire but the people who use it. In all likelihood, snares will be banned in the near future because people who make the laws in Scotland are too lazy and hamfisted to deal with the issue of malpractice. It’s a cliched comparison, but it’s like trying to stop drink-driving by banning cars. Stir in some bubbling class warfare, sensationalised welfare concerns and a bit of hype and you’ve got a recipe for some ridiculous legislation that will come as close to solving the issue as I will come to an Olympic gold medal in swimming. There will always be dangerous, unpleasant snares in the countryside – as long as there are ignorant people in the world, that much is guaranteed. The only outcome of this new legislation is more paperwork for law abiding people.
I should hear back from the police with an ID number in the next few weeks, and then I can go on to sort out some tags and get my snares labelled.