Thursday, 15 May 2014

ASSISTANCE SOUGHT: SNH BEGINS TRAPPING STUDY

The SGA is asking that members, who are able to, help SNH with research into traps and general licences (see SNH media release below).
Scottish Natural Heritage is asking members of game keeping and land management organisations to help with research about corvids (crows, magpies, rooks, jackdaws, jays) and general licences.
SNH has commissioned Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) to research how and where corvid traps are currently used in Scotland, how different trap types operate in different situations, and their effectiveness.  The research will also measure the risk of welfare issues and of non-target captures. 
The British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) GWCT and National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) are supporting the work and asking their members to cooperate. This follows consultation in 2013 with relevant interest groups.
Ben Ross, SNH’s licensing manager, said, “We are committed to making general licences better. We recognise the huge amount of knowledge and experience that practitioners hold, and want to learn from it.
“We want to make sure that users can carry out control in the most effective ways with minimal risks to welfare or other species and to make sure that licences are robust and fair.  We also want to promote a better understanding about why general licences are used, and how they’re important tools in conservation and land management.”
Among the 14 general licenses currently operating in 2014 are four that relate to the control of common corvid birds.  The general licences list the reasons why these birds may be killed: conserving wild birds; preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables and fruit; preserving public health, public safety and preventing the spread of disease; and protecting air safety.  They specify conditions, including authorised trap design, standards for welfare of decoy and captured birds and tagging of traps to identify the operator. 
The work will have several stages, starting with a questionnaire to  registered users of corvid traps, conducted by GWCT.  This will look at when, why and how corvid traps are currently used in Scotland.  Later stages of the work will include field studies of how different traps are used in practice. 
Under Scotland’s wildlife law, all wild bird species are protected, but the control of some species is permitted by authorised persons and regulated by general licences.  They cover situations that are relatively common and where there is unlikely to be any great conservation impact, such as preserving public health or air safety and preventing the spread of disease.  Their purpose is to allow birds to be effectively managed when there is clear need.  The licenses avoid the need for individual licensing, but they do include strict conditions about how they must be used. SNH regularly reviews and revises general licences to ensure they are easy to understand, up-to-date and fit for purpose.