Wednesday, 8 May 2019

BLOG: PREDATOR CONTROL: BLACK OR WHITE?


There has been a lot of recent debate around legal predator control traps. Clearly, there is a need for wider education around this subject. Such issues are rarely black and white. Firstly, the predator traps currently available in the open marketplace and used by gamekeepers, farmers and conservationists are legal, tested and approved in design, operated by trained operators and, whether some like them or not, are approved by governmental agencies such as SNH because they are acknowledged to have a legitimate conservation purpose. It is illegal to vandalise approved traps and snares set by approved operators in the countryside. 
Unfortunately, such incidents are becoming more and more prevalent, making it very difficult for people to work.
In this post are photographs sent to the SGA by residents in Orkney. The traps in the photos are legally set (this is now under review after members highlighted suspicions regarding their setting and SGA ran these suspicions past trap experts). They are being operated by RSPB Scotland as part of the plan to kill all stoats on Orkney in a bid to save native wildlife. SGA members, too, use approved legal stoat traps to control their numbers. Stoats, abundant in number, are proven to have a negative impact on an array of ground nesting species; some of which are gradually- and in some cases quickly- disappearing from our countryside.
This project will see RSPB Scotland receive £7.265 million of public money. SNH, Scottish Government’s scientific advisers, have paid £526 000 towards the project which involves training people to use these traps to eradicate stoats. EU Life have paid £2 636 597. Heritage Lottery Fund, an arms length body but accountable to Parliament via the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, have funded stoat eradication to the tune of £3.48 million.
People may comment on how openly these traps have been set, in public areas, and whether they will be effective.
However, they are there for a purpose, ultimately, to kill predators in order to save vulnerable species. They are the same traps available for use to gamekeepers and farmers and have the same biodiversity spin-offs for the types of species which form part of the diet of the stoat. Furthermore, their use is not only backed by government advisory agencies and national funding bodies; these bodies are happy to spend significant sums of tax payers’ money to see them operated. Predator control is a key component in conservation. Hopefully those intending to damage the tools to carry it out legally and humanely will think beyond narrow agendas and leave them to do their intended job. 
That said, if you see a trap which is set illegally, contact the Police*
* The notice on the top of the Orkney trap recommends that, if you want to report an injured animal in the trap, you should contact RSPB or SNH, not the Police.