The Government is planning to allow a further year for the replacement of stoat traps, following fierce lobbying by the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) and other countryside bodies.
The news 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 but an additional measure removing the use of existing traps for catching stoats is now to be delayed by a year until 1 January 2020.
Defra explained to the European Commission, “We have agreed with stakeholders to delay this removal (as permitted under the Agreement) until 1 January 2020 to give the sector sufficient time to manufacture, supply and deploy new compliant stoat traps.”
Welcoming the news, a spokesman for the NGO said, “We have long urged politicians and officials that more time would be required to test, approve, make and market new AIHTS-compliant stoat traps in the large quantities required by gamekeepers and other trappers. This extra year is a very welcome change following our robust response to the Government’s public consultation earlier this year.”
In that response in May, the NGO told Defra, “If the proposals go ahead unaltered, we will arrive on 1 January 2019 without sufficient practical alternative traps in place and only two possible outcomes. Either most trapping will have to stop, which would be disastrous in terms of the rural economy and seriously damaging to conservation, both of which the Government is pledged to support. Or, there would be continued use of non-compliant traps, very probably leading to widespread prosecutions of well-meaning individuals who had been left with no legitimate way to continue their livelihoods. Neither scenario is remotely acceptable.”
The proposed extension of the deadline till 1 January 2020 will allow for more new trap designs to be tested for AIHTS compliance and for approved new traps to be made, sold, weathered in and deployed in the countryside.
“2020 is not that far away and replacing all non-compliant stoat traps by then will still be tight,” said the NGO, “But this extra time heads off the chaos we predicted, and the Government is to be congratulated on hearing the views of rural stakeholders and responding to them.”.