General Licence Trap use: Update on Trapping Project
At the request of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) have been working to establish where and how corvid traps are currently used in Scotland. Last year, the GWCT sent a questionnaire to all registered trap users covered by General Licences in Scotland. Now SASA is asking volunteers to keep simple records of their trap catches through this year, and to allow SASA staff to remotely monitor trap activity using trail cameras for a short period of that time.
Keeping records for this project requires minimal time and effort and can be done in a variety of ways including booklets, spreadsheets or a mobile app. All data collected will be analysed anonymously, so trap users can rest assured that their name will not be used in any analysis or publications. It is essential that these results are robust and cannot be discredited. To validate users’ records we use trail cameras, set to take one photograph every hour for short periods at individual trap sites. These cameras will be used for collection of data, and not for policing trap users. Cameras will be set only with the explicit permission of the trap user, and photographs will not be published or given to a third party without their permission.
The recent sentencing of George Mutch of the Kildrummy Estate for misuse of a corvid trap has caused a lot of discussion around this project, with some concerns being raised. SASA and the GWCT wish to reassure anyone that participating in this project carries no personal risks. On the contrary, this project is designed to show how legitimate trap users undertake this activity. We wish to ensure these traps can be used efficiently and effectively, without risks to trap operators. This project is crucial to safeguard the lawful use of corvid traps.
It is vital that the use of corvid traps is justified by sound evidence. This is our best – and possibly only - opportunity to collect information that is impartial, detailed, and independently verified. Please don’t let high profile cases of trap misuse cast a shadow over normal trap use. By participating in this research you will help improve the understanding of corvid trapping as a legitimate wildlife management practice. Using your experience and knowledge as practitioners, we will gather information that better informs and justifies licensed activities. It is critical to the success of this work that as many trap users as possible participate in collecting trap records, and with the use of cameras.
If you are willing to participate in the project, or have any questions, please contact Seonaidh (Shona) Jamieson (email@example.com; 0131 244 8889). You do not need to have filled out the earlier questionnaire to participate.
This study has the support of numerous countryside and fieldsports organisations, including the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the Scottish Association for Country Sports (SACS), the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA), Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) and the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS). All are joining us in encouraging participation from their members and supporters.