A NORTH Pembrokeshire fur trapper had defended his trade, saying that he plays an important role in helping the environment.

David Sneade, the self-proclaimed “last fur trapper in the UK” told the BBC that he was acting within the law and supplying market demand.

Over a ten-week trapping season Mr Sneade said that he would snare around 300 animals in a good year. He then sells their skins abroad where they are used as trimmings for coats or for entire coats.

Snaring foxes is not illegal in the UK but is subject to strict guidelines under Humane Trapping Standards Regulations 2019.

However, animal rights campaigners say it causes cruel and unnecessary suffering and the RSPCA is calling for an outright ban on the use of snares in Wales.

The Hunt Investigation Team (HIT) says that Mr Sneade operates within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, a place, they say, where wildlife should be safe.

“Fur farming is banned in the UK, but fur trapping has not yet been addressed,” concluded an expose on the group’s website.

“Fur trapping clearly has the potential for huge wildlife crime and cruelty in our countryside.

“HIT is exposing this barbaric industry and calling for a complete ban on fur trapping in the UK.”

Mr Sneade, who has been trapping for half a century, admitted to the BBC that animals caught in his traps probably did suffer to some extent and could remain snared for a few hours until he checked the snare.

However, he said that his work kept the growing fox population down.

“It helps the environment so much to keep the fox population down,” he said. “There’s so much damage to ground nesting birds and also to sheep farmers it’s got to be done whether people like it or not.”

HIT, however, called on locals and visitors to north Pembrokeshire to be alert for snares and traps in the country lanes around Newport and Nevern.

The group urged people to contact the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales to any snaring activity and to lobby their local politicians to change legislation.

RSPCA Cymru said: “RSPCA Cymru is opposed to the manufacture, sale and use of all snares or any trap which causes suffering. Snares are cruel and indiscriminate in what they catch – and the RSPCA support an outright ban on their use in Wales.

“The public is urged to never try and free an animal from a snare or trap – due to risk of injury to the human and animal, while it could also be an offence if the animal was legally caught.”