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To protect Orkney’s native wildlife and economy, the project aims to eradicate stoats from Orkney, returning the islands to how they were before stoats were first reported in 2010.

Eradicating stoats means not just reducing their numbers but removing every last one, returning the islands to their natural stoat-free status. Eradications have two phases:

  • The knock-down phase when trapping causes a fast and substantial reduction in the number of stoats.
  • The mop-up phase when the last remaining stoats still need to be found before the eradication is a success. Reports of sightings will be particularly important during this phase.

The team

The eradication team is responsible for trapping stoats on the Orkney Mainland and the linked isles by gaining land access, deploying traps in an eradication network, checking and maintaining the network, and then, at the end, ensuring that all traps are removed.

The traps

The project uses three types of lethal, humane traps currently legal for use in Scotland and that reach the welfare standards defined by the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS): the DOC200 spring trap, the DOC150 spring trap and GoodNature A24 self-resetting trap.

Most of the traps used by the project are DOC200s. The DOC200, and slightly smaller DOC150, traps are housed in specially designed trap boxes which ensure the traps are humane and minimise the chance of catching animals that aren’t stoats. The project uses two types of trap box that house either two traps (double-set) or one trap (single-set).

The network

The trap network for the first phase of the eradication involves nearly 6,000 trap boxes across Mainland Orkney, South Ronaldsay and the linked isles. Roughly 80% of these trap boxes contain two DOC200 traps and the rest a single trap. There are also just over 250 GoodNature traps being trialled in Birsay and Orphir in areas that are protected due to their importance for rare and sensitive bird species.

The project team are immensely grateful to the many hundreds of landowners that have given permission for setting and maintaining traps on their land. Their support has been humbling and they should be very proud of the contribution they are making to protect Orkney’s native wildlife and economy.

Trap deployment

The eradication trap network was deployed and opened in stages starting with South Ronaldsay and the Linked Isles, followed by protected areas in West Mainland and across East Mainland. The traps on South Ronaldsay were then opened.

Once work could resume following the first lockdown in June 2020, the East Mainland traps were opened, and traps were deployed at pace on West Mainland. The full trap network for the first phase of the eradication is now in place.

Trap checks

Once deployment is completed in a specific area, the traps are assigned to a route, baited and opened for the first time. Thereafter, the traps are checked on a three weekly-basis. During each check, the trap boxes are opened and the traps are emptied, cleaned, maintained, rebaited, reset and the boxes closed.

Want to get involved?

Get in touch to find out more about adding your support by allowing trapping on your land or how to join the trapping team as a volunteer.

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