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INVESTIGATION: The ‘macabre’ trade supporting UK’s legal fur industry

In what critics condemned a 'grisly' business, David Sneade snares and clubs the foxes to death for their fur, which are sold to dealers in Sweden and the US. The use of snares is legal in the UK.

JANE DALTON: ‘Calls to ban snares have been renewed after an investigation found hundreds of foxes are trapped for their fur each year at a one-man hub in rural Wales. A legal loophole allows a wildlife hunter to snare foxes, kill them and sell their pelts — even though fur farms are considered so cruel they are banned in Britain… Setting snares is legal in the UK provided the devices are not designed to kill…

David Sneade, who sells the fur to dealers in Sweden and the US, clubs the animals to death in a national park, in what critics condemned as a “grisly” business. He dismembers the bodies and stretches the skins on racks — and posts about it all on Facebook. Members of the public who have seen him battering the animals to death said it was “incredibly disturbing” and left them feeling traumatised. The trapper kills about 300 a year — but he told The Independent what he does is less cruel than the natural world.

He uses the foxes’ own brain fluid to preserve the pelts in a workshop described by investigators as “macabre”, and leaves the skinned corpses out for birds to feed on. In a video taken by one witness, he “uses multiple brutal blows” on a still-breathing fox, before crushing it to death with his foot. Fur trappers snare and bludgeon animals rather than shooting them so their pelts are not spoilt by bullet wounds and blood. The witness said the sight was horrific: “The way the fox was handled was disgusting and incredibly disturbing… The witnesses also found skinned fox carcasses discarded in hedgerows, and other foxes that died in snares and left to rot…

Mr Sneade, 60, openly posts photos on Facebook of the furs and skins from animals trapped in the Pembrokeshire coast national park. However, since news of his work was made public, he has made his Facebook page private… Pictures on his Facebook profile show fox bodies skinned and dismembered, with knives and a stretching rack.

A photo from 2018 shows him posing with numerous fox carcasses, another from January last year shows a freezer full of furs in plastic bags, and another shows a living fox with its neck caught in a snare, which he described as “a good mountain one”… The Hunt Investigation Team (HIT), which disclosed Mr Sneade’s trade, says it is unregulated, and snares should be banned. It claimed he goes into Wildlife Trust reserves, but he denied this…

The Welsh government’s code of practice on snares says it is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal under someone’s control including while held in snares and the means by which they are killed… Mr Sneade, who denies what he does is inhumane, was reported to the RSPCA last year and interviewed. Asked about a visit from the RSPCA, Mr Sneade replied: “Everything was OK and no court order”…

Claire Bass, executive director of HSI/UK, said: “Politicians acted with compassion almost 20 years ago when the government banned fur farming in this country, so the public will be shocked to discover that animals are still suffering and dying for the cruel trade here in the UK, and in a national park where they should be protected.

“The legal loophole that allows foxes to be snared and killed for fur needs to be closed. The UK banned fur farming because it is morally unjustifiable to subject animals to appalling suffering in the name of frivolous fashion and vanity.” The UK still allows imports of real fur from species including rabbit, mink, fox, coyote and chinchilla, which the government has faced pressure to end’. SOURCE…


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