We are aware of occasions when legal traps have been tampered with damaged or stolen. The new restrictions on Fenn traps for targeting stoats could potentially create a situation where Fenn traps are deliberately set to suggest a criminal act has taken place i.e. a legal stoat trap could be switched for a Fenn trap, or Fenn traps could be set around stoat populations by others (without the gamekeeper’s knowledge). Gamekeepers must be alert to this potential situation and ensure they can safeguard themselves in the event of such a situation. Keeping good up-to-date records of all traps set on your shoot will help. Even taking a photo of the legal trap once in position could be an option. If you suspect such a “set-up” has occurred, contact the police (call 101) and report the crime. If possible, take some images of the planted trap. Do not ignore this situation if it occurs, it is vital that all incidents are reported and given a crime number to ensure the scale of such incidents are known and investigated properly. If you are concerned that you may be targeted in this way, BASC advise that shoots contact their local police and inform them of your concerns. Ensure they are aware that your shoot has removed all Fenn traps from locations with known stoat populations. This will ensure the police in the area are aware of the law change (regarding stoat trapping) and have logged the compliant steps you have taken to ensure compliance.
As above, a trap must be listed on the relevant STAO before it can be used.
If you are targeting stoats then you will need to use an AIHTS approved trap which is listed on the relevant STAO (for the country where you are trapping). Even though a trap may have met the standard, if it is not listed on the relevant STAO then it cannot be used.
Because of how the WCA is worded, it is an offence to set a trap (not listed on the stoat general licence), where it is calculated (England & Wales) or likely (Scotland) to cause injury to an animal in schedule 6 or 6ZA. As it can be difficult to avoid stoats in some instances, given their size and agility, where they are known to be present an approved stoat trap which is also authorised for other species should be used. In other areas where stoats are not known to be present and as such catching one is not calculated or likely, you should be able to continue trapping other species such as rats with appropriate traps. If a stoat were to be caught in an uncertified trap (i.e. one not listed on the STAO for stoats) without it being calculated or likely, then it is unlikely that an offence would be committed. But ultimately, it would be for the individual setting a trap to assess a given situation and potentially be prepared to justify their actions if they were to be prosecuted. It is also important to note that it is not only if a stoat were to be caught but in situations where it is calculated or likely to cause injury that an offence would be committed. We are seeking further clarification on this and hope to update in due course.
Some older models such as the Juby or Imbra have been removed from the current STAOs and therefore can no longer be used. It is not illegal to own or sell them, but it is illegal to use them for an unlawful purpose. So, they can no longer be set.
No, Fenns and several other trap designs can still be used to trap relevant pests provided they are listed on the relevant STAO and you act in accordance with the requirements. If you are targeting stoats, you will need to change to a new stoat approved design/set-up as listed on the relevant STAO.
Yes, the changes to the Wildlife and Countryside Act are solely around trapping.