Welcome to the first weekly stoat snippet.
These snippets will be a short update on progress with both the Orkney Native Wildlife Project and the Orkney Mainland Predator Invasion Biosecurity Project, as well as addressing any concerns that folk have raised with ourselves and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
You’ll remember from our last blog that Strath Caulaidh Ltd were about to begin the Orkney Mainland Predator Invasion Biosecurity Project which aims to prevent stoats spreading to currently stoat-free islands by trapping in five coastal areas of Mainland Orkney.
Well, 150 traps have now been set on the coastal strips of the Orkney mainland where neighbouring islands are within 3 km.
Also, in response to a possible stoat sighting on Rousay, thirty traps have been set on the island along with camera traps to try to confirm if a stoat is present.
All the traps are DOC kill traps enclosed in a wooden box and use eggs as bait. They are set specifically for stoats with very small entrances to ensure there is no risk to the public or domestic animals. Many thanks to all the landowners who have worked with our contractors so far to not only allow access to their land but also to help facilitate checking of traps.
A first check of both the traps and cameras on Rousay has been completed and has not detected any stoats.
The traps will stay out on Rousay for at least two months and on the Orkney mainland until we start the main eradication programme to reduce the risk of stoats swimming across and invading more islands.
Looking forward, a visit to all the mainland traps and a repeat trip to Rousay will be made this week.
Answering your concerns…
Is there a legal requirement to check traps at a specific regularity?
No, as the DOC traps kill animals outright, there is no legal period in which they need to be checked. In the first instance, traps will be checked and reset at least every two weeks.
What is the legal status of stoats? Are they not protected?
The stoat is not a protected species in the UK and therefore can be trapped. They are routinely trapped on the Scottish mainland by some landowners.
If you have any comments or concerns please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
And don't forget to keep reporting any sightings of stoats, whether on the mainland or outer isles, as soon as possible, to SNH by calling 01856 886163, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or through the ‘Stoats in Orkney’ Facebook page.