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.
Whats our position
On the 30 April 2018, DEFRA closed the consultation on AIHTS. You can download the BASC response to the consultation below.
BASC has welcomed the government’s decision to allow more time for the replacement of stoat traps.
News of the decision emerged in a notification made by Defra to the European Commission, which oversees Member States’ implementation of the Agreement on Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS).
The notification reveals that in line with a Government public consultation earlier this year, recently approved stoat traps are to be added to the Spring Traps Approvals Order as soon as the Parliamentary timetable allows. However, an additional measure removing the use of existing stoat traps is now to be delayed a year until April 1, 2020.
Glynn Evans, BASC head of game and deer, said: “Along with other organisations, BASC has consistently advised that more time would be required to facilitate the transition to AIHTS-compliant traps for gamekeepers and others who trap stoats.
“BASC submitted a robust response to the public consultation earlier this year. Government has listened to these concerns.
“While the timescales are still tight to replace non-compliant stoat traps by 2020, this extra time should go a long way to reducing the difficulties which would have occurred without it.”
For further information contact the Game and Deer Department on 01244 573 019 or by email.