Tuesday, 28 May 2019

SGA QUESTIONS LEGALITY OF ORKNEY STOAT TRAPS




The above images alerted the SGA's attention to potential issues with the inner baffle dimensions and  excluder aperture. The SGA then ran the images past trap experts.
 The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has alerted Police Scotland to what it believes may be a case of illegal trap setting carried out by RSPB contractors on a multi million pound project.
RSPB Scotland intend to wipe out all the stoats on Orkney in order to conserve native wildlife.
The 5 year Orkney Native Wildlife Project has caused controversy, not least within the charity’s membership, with a section opposed to the killing of animals.
Despite this, the cull programme has received almost £7m of tax payer’s money from EU Life, Heritage Lottery and Scottish Natural Heritage.
Scottish Gamekeepers Association chiefs believe officials may have to rethink plans, though, after looking into the way approved predator traps are being deployed.
They were alerted to possible mis-setting of stoat traps after a land manager sent images of the baited box traps following a visit to Orkney.
After seeking an opinion, SGA officials were informed by experts that the metal DOC 200 spring traps, built in New Zealand, did not appear to be set in a way that conforms to new guidelines.
It is understood the traps have been in operation close to coastal areas for some time, despite concerns now being raised over whether they actually meet legal requirements of the 2018 Spring Traps Approval (Scotland) Amendment Order.
The illegal setting of traps carries a criminal sanction, with RSPB officials actively encouraging members of the public to report illegal traps to their own investigators as a potential wildlife crime.
SGA Chairman Alex Hogg said: “The traps were brought to our attention because a land manager, having a break with his family, was intrigued by way they had been set. Some were located in very open areas, close to public car parks.
“It was after looking at the images that one of our members, who had been taking advice on DOC trap models himself, noticed the ones being used by RSPB raised questions about the legal dimensions of the inner baffle and excluder aperture.
“We had this checked out and felt it was best to alert the Police so the traps may be removed and investigated further.
“If an SGA member was to set a non-conforming trap, they could have their guns taken away and their job and home threatened by court action, not to mention the public and political outcry.” 
He added: “We understand some individuals brought in by RSPB to do the trapping may not have a lot of field experience with these traps, so mistakes can happen. However, so much tax payers’ money is being thrown at this work. It should at least be carried out legally and humanely.”
When fully operational later this year, the eradication project will see thousands of traps - baited with fish, meat or eggs - placed around the island to kill stoats, which arrived in Orkney in 2010.

Some local farmers have refused access to project staff to set traps due to a long-running dispute over the management of greylag geese which devastate their fields.