Report a Sighting arrow-right

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 2010s. This is how…

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:

  • Knock-down

    This is when the network of traps causes a substantial reduction in the number of stoats present.

    As the project has progressed, this method has evolved to incorporate 'response trapping'. This means identifying stoat hotspots through public sightings and the indications of the project’s stoat detection dogs, and then deploying traps based on this information.

  • Mop-up

    The mop-up phase is 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. 'Response trapping' will continue and expand as we make the final push towards a stoat free Orkney.

The team

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

The trappers work closely with the stoat detection dog team to pinpoint and remove stoat hotspots. This coordination is known as ‘response trapping’, and supplements the static trap network. Response trapping means responding to dog detections and public sightings with targeted trapping. The dogs locate the scent or sign of stoats, they do not to hunt them.

The traps

The project uses DOC200 and DOC150 humane lethal traps to remove stoats from Orkney. These traps are legal for use in Scotland and reach the welfare standards defined by the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS). The majority of these are DOC200 spring traps, but

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 around 8,000 trap boxes deployed across the Orkney Mainland, South Ronaldsay and the linked isles. Roughly 80% of these trap boxes contain two DOC200 traps and the rest a single trap.

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 COVID pandemic, the East Mainland traps were opened, and traps were deployed at pace on West Mainland. The full trap network has proved effective at reducing the number of stoats to a point where staff can respond to individual sightings across the whole of the eradication zone.

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. Response traps - which are deployed on the basis of public sightings and detection dog indications - are checked more regularly.

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.

Offer land access Volunteer with us

Get Involved

Report a stoat
Offer land access