The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) (1) is running free training sessions for farmers, gamekeepers and estate workers on fox snaring and controlling corvids using cage traps on 12th November 2013 at Lastingham Village Hall on the North York Moors.
These important courses, which provide intensive ‘best practice’ training in the use of snares and cage traps, are 100% funded by Defra (the Government’s Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) through the RDPE (Rural Development Programme for England) Upland Skills Training programme. (2)
The courses are free to eligible adult trainees who are not in full time education and who work on-farms, estates or forestry (farm owners, managers, supervisors, staff, stock-persons, gamekeepers, estate workers and foresters) and who operate in areas where over 50% of their land is within a Severely Disadvantaged Area (SDA).
Effective fox and corvid control are an integral part of game and wildlife management. Henrietta Appleton, from the GWCT, said, “It is essential that anyone practicing gamekeeping, wildlife or land management is fully aware of their training needs. These sessions will highlight the fundamental importance of good practice in ensuring animal welfare and provide an update on the current legal framework. No matter how rarely people use these techniques I would urge everyone to book onto this course in order to ensure compliance with the law and the maintenance of high standards.”
A report issued by Defra in March 2012 identified that gamekeepers and farmers are the two main users of fox snares. However, the report found that awareness and adoption of the Code of Practice governing snaring was not comprehensive. As a result the GWCT is keen to work with farming organisations to promote Defra’s Code of Practice on Snaring to their members and encourage them to get trained.
The Trust is also working with the game management community to ensure that gamekeeping staff only purchase or make snares that meet Code of Practice specifications and adhere to the Code of Practice when running snares. Operators could be open to prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act (2006) if they have not followed the recommendations of the Code.
GWCT, as a leading research charity, has undertaken substantial research to identify how snaring can be improved through better operating practices, training and snare design and this will also be covered in this course.
Larsen traps and crow cages are widely used by gamekeepers to minimise predation pressure during the breeding season and by farmers to minimise crop damage. Controlling corvids using cage traps is permitted through compliance with an annual general licence the terms of which may change each year. GWCT studies have shown that following good practice guidelines which the trust promotes normally results in improved catch rates for corvids, while minimising the number of non-target animals caught.
For further information on both courses, please visit the ADAS/RDPE website (rdpe.adas.co.uk/) or the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust website (www.gwct.org.uk/courses). To book your free place please contact Lynda Ferguson at the GWCT on 01425 651013 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Farmers or gamekeepers from other SDA areas and those outside SDA areas are also welcome to attend the training day. Those that are not eligible will be required to pay £66 per course to attend.
Notes to editors
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is an independent wildlife conservation charity which carries out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats and we lobby for agricultural and conservation policies based on science. We employ 20 post-doctoral scientists and 40 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.
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This project is supported by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) for which Defra is the Managing Authority, part funded (or financed) by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.