07 March 2019

Time to train for new tunnel traps, says predation expert

Fenn and Springer

JONATHAN Reynolds reminded a packed audience of land managers at the second GWCT Game conference that there was only one year left before the use of Fenn traps for stoats becomes ILLEGAL in the UK.

Speaking at the symposium held on March 5th at the Allerton Project in Loddington, the GWCT’s head of predation control studies recommended that keepers, this year, become familiar with the traps that will be lawful for stoats after April 1st 2020.

Dr Reynolds explained the likely reasons why Fenn traps failed to meet the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) and why its successors could prove more effective. 

He said: “It’s impossible in this day-and-age to defend a trap in which animals take more than five minutes to die.”

Foreseeing the present circumstances, GWCT submitted DOC traps to Defra for approval back in 2006 to ensure that at least one trap type would be available in the future.  Since then, eight completely new traps have been considered. Additionally, the approval conditions for DOC traps were extended by Defra to allow their humane use in run-through tunnels, while allowing much flexibility over tunnel construction. 

The switch from Fenns will be a major inconvenience for many, but Dr Reynolds suggested that it should not be the disaster that some were predicting.  Similar pessimism had greeted the introduction of the Fenn trap in the 1950s.

His encouragement was echoed by GWCT advisor Austin Weldon, who chaired the conference and spoke about the challenges of running the demonstration shoot at Loddington. Austin said they had used DOC traps successfully on the shoot last year and he would be incorporating a presentation based on the new rules in his forthcoming predation training courses.

Other hot topics discussed on the day included post-Brexit funding for Countryside Stewardship, keeping pheasants healthy through clever use of wormers, updates on Natural Resources Wales’ decision to ban pheasant shooting, the benefits of shifting to multi-purpose perennial game crops and a progress report from the British Game Alliance.

Closing the conference was Dr Roger Draycott, head of advisory services at GWCT, who said: “A key message from the topics discussed on the day was the importance of adhering to best practice guidelines across all aspects of shoot management to ensure high levels of animal welfare and to maximise the environmental benefits that good game management can deliver.”

The event was kindly sponsored by Perdix Wildlife, Elanco and Keeper’s Choice.

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Notes to editors

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish 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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