What should you do if a legal stoat trap is tampered with or replaced with a non-legal trap (Fenn trap)?

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.

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How much is your existing policy excess if debris fell on your vehicle?

For some vehicles the excess can be over £500. No one likes unexpected repair bills - our policy has NO EXCESS if the vehicle is damaged by debris falling on your vehicle while participating in a BASC recognised activity (as defined in the policy).

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Does your existing policy cover you while off-road?

Our policy does where many don’t. If you have a vehicle that is made for off-road, then why not insure it for this? You will be covered while off-road as well as on-road (subject to the vehicle being registered for on-road use).

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My shoot has already decided not to go ahead next season. What would you suggest we do in the meantime?

When travelling and social distancing restrictions are eased in the coming weeks and months, there should still be plenty of time to do crucial conservation and habitat work. Visit BASC’s conservation page here for ideas on preparing for the season ahead or visit GWCT. It’s also a great opportunity to revisit how days are run and consider new ways to improve the shoot. It’s important to remember we are a community and we should look after each other. Shooting is a social activity and it will be important to maintain contact with the regular Guns through the season. Why not arrange other social gatherings like a work party followed by a clay shoot or host a simulated day.

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What’s your advice to Guns looking to buy days next season?

There is inevitable uncertainty about what next season might look like. Many shoots that let days rely on deposits from Guns for cashflow to buy birds, feed them, and pay wages. Without deposits from Guns, they may not be able to go ahead. However, it is understandable that Guns are cautious about paying non-refundable deposits. Guns should speak to shoots - it will help them to know that you still want to go with them next season. Guns may be able to negotiate payment arrangements that reduce exposure to risk. Cancellation insurance is unlikely to be available during the pandemic to cover losses arising from a shoot not being able to deliver days as planned. Where possible, BASC is advising Guns to think seriously about committing for next season – not only will it give something to look forward to but it will make a vital contribution to the future of the shoot, its suppliers and staff, and to the wider shooting community.

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What’s your advice for larger shoots and those that sell days?

Even in a normal season there are a lot of financial and other factors to be taken into account. This year, there will be obvious concerns around the financial implications of the current situation - will guns be reluctant to put down deposits, will there be unsold days, will cashflow and profitability be sufficient? There are clearly uncertainties about the season ahead that increase the risks at the moment, but the right course of action will depend on the structure and finances of the shoot. BASC suggests talking with sporting agents or Guns who have returned year-on-year previously to secure commitment. To alleviate concerns, perhaps shoots may be able to restructure payment arrangements i.e. reducing deposits or providing payment systems. It will pay in the long term to be as customer-focused as possible and to acknowledge that this is a difficult time for all involved. It is important to ensure all booking and cancellation policies are up to date and easy to understand. Depending on circumstances, shoots may also want to consider offering smaller days or start a little later in the season. This might reduce costs and risks in the event that the start of the season is restricted in a way we can’t predict at the moment. Once you have birds under your care, you have a legal obligation to ensure their welfare, regardless of other financial and business considerations. Speak to your accountants or other advisors to ensure that you are taking advantage of any government support schemes that you may be eligible for. Finally, consider that decisions you make this year will have longer-term implications for the future of your business. Whatever you choose to do, keep in regular contact with your suppliers, customers and supporters to give them confidence for the future. You can read Guns on Pegs’ view on the potential disruption and prospects for next season here.

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