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Stoat Snippet 80

2 August 2019

Welcome to the 80th stoat snippet!

These snippets are an update on the Orkney Native Wildlife Project as well as addressing any concerns that folk have raised.

If you are new to these snippets and want to know more about the project, check out this blog and this one too.

Orkney Native Wildlife Project

We were delighted to welcome the local Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) to our Kirkwall office this week.

Eight of their team heard how it took three years of planning, development, research and trapping trials on the ground to put together the grant application to our main funders EU Life and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This has now been translated into a practical operational eradication plan, wildlife monitoring and education programme to help protect Orkney's native wildlife.

There was some interesting debate on a variety of subjects, including an acknowledgement that all ONWP project partners and government agencies are committed to collaborating with Orkney farmers to help manage the agricultural geese problem via the newly reconstituted Orkney Goose Management Group. We sympathise and support everyone involved.

Our trapping team continues to seek landowner’s permission to lay traps for the eradication network across the Orkney Mainland. On their rounds meeting local landowners they are also spreading the great news from the first meeting of the NFUS-led Orkney Goose Management Group where everyone committed to the agreed plans to help reduce resident geese by over 75%.

Collaboration from landowners is critical to protecting Orkney’s native wildlife and will help curtail the threat from stoats. Without neighbourly co-operation now, everyone will inherit an impoverished natural environment, so we are grateful to those who choose to support us.

Biosecurity trap network

Mainland: Since our last Snippet no stoats were caught in the trap network in this season of abundant food.

Biosecurity islands: This week Chris, our biosecurity officer, visited Wyre to place the first five biosecurity traps on the island. In total there will be 18 traps on Wyre and they will be positioned around 400m apart. All traps will be in place by the end of August. Wyre is one of the high-risk islands as stoats can swim up to three kilometres and we want to ensure they do not spread beyond the Orkney Mainland.

Last week he also checked the biosecurity trap network in Flotta with the help of Sarah and Katy from the ONWP wildlife monitoring team. This is Katy checking the trap at Blue Geo.

If you want to know more about biosecurity please feel free to talk to Chris directly on 01856 881448, or by emailing

Incursion response: Chris and Rachel from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) visited Stronsay for the first time on Wednesday following a report of a possible stoat sighting there. We are very grateful to everyone who tells project partners when they see a stoat. Our response to these alerts is always to lay traps in the area. Sites are chosen by following lines of tracks in preferred stoat habitat while always remaining respectful of grazing livestock. These traps will be monitored every two weeks by SNH. Here is Chris setting a trap on Stronsay with the landowner's permission.

Monitoring programme

This year’s wildlife monitoring programme is coming to an end and the seasonal team of four fledge today to move onto other things. Katy is preparing to walk the Cornish Coast Path walk to raise money for the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Living Seas Campaign. This aims to help on issues such as cetacean stranding, marine conservation zones and plastic pollution.

Sarah is planning a rest on Papa Westray before moving on, while Alex will be packing for an exciting job which means leaving the UK in the autumn with the British Antarctic Survey. We have loved having them with us and wish them every success.

Their manager, Tom, will be staying on with the project for a few more months to help engaging with landowners for access, the September vole monitoring as well as analysis of this season’s bird survey.

Answering your concerns…

We would really appreciate folk who own land and are happy for us to conduct wildlife monitoring and/or trapping to take place to get in touch. Please email or call the trapping manager directly on 01856 881453 as soon as you can.

Don’t forget to keep reporting any sightings of stoats (dead or alive), as soon as possible, by contacting our monitoring officer directly on 01856 881454, or by emailing or through the ‘Stoats in Orkney’ Facebook page.

Remember, if you have any comments or concerns please contact us telephone on 01856 881451.

To keep up-to-date with the project, please follow our Facebook page.

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