The agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) is between the European Union, Russia, Canada and the USA. It was developed largely in relation to the trapping of fur-bearing animals and the trade in fur.
It includes a number of requirements for testing and the use of traps for these fur-bearing species. Of these, only otter, beaver, marten, badger and stoat occur in the UK, and only the stoat can be taken or killed without a special licence.
Traps are widely used in the UK to protect gamebirds and wildlife from a number predators, which includes stoats, so the agreement will potentially have implications for much of the trapping carried out in the UK.
The AIHTS process began in 1997 but did not come into force until July 2008. Parties to the agreement then had until 2013 to certify traps and a further period until July 2016 for implementation. Originally it looked as if the EU would produce a directive on this, but in 2012 it decided against this and the implementation was left to the individual member states.
With the date for implementation approaching and a number of the currently stoat-approved traps unlikely to be tested against the standard in time, BASC lobbied Government and a new implementation plan including a deadline of July 2018, was set for compliance of ‘stoat’ traps with AIHTS.
As part of the plan, a Defra-led Technical Working Group was set up to look at the issue of trap testing and assessment of whether proposed new traps are likely to meet the requirements of AIHTS. BASC is represented on this group and is also financially contributing towards the testing of new traps.
A key criteria for the group is that any replacement traps must be effective and comparable in size, cost and availability to those currently used.
Following the EU referendum, there was uncertainty if Brexit would have any impact on AIHTS. However, after representation by BASC and other organisations, ministers confirmed that they want the UK to meet its obligations irrespective of our membership of the EU.
On the 19 March, DEFRA opened a consultation which will close on the 30 April 2018. The consultation can be found here.
For further information contact the Game and Deer Department on 01244 573 019 or by email.