Welcome to the forty-fourth stoat snippet!

These snippets are a short update on the Orkney Native Wildlife Project and the Orkney Mainland Predator Invasion Biosecurity Project, as well as addressing any concerns that folk have raised with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and RSPB Scotland.

If you are new to these snippets and want to know more about the project, check out this blog.


Orkney Native Wildlife Project

As you’ll probably know, our top priority at the moment is identifying landowners to get land access permissions organised for traps in the future and so we can check some areas for stoats over the summer.

We’re asking all landowners that we haven’t spoken to so far, even if that land is only your garden, to get in touch with us by emailing ONWP.LandAccess@gmail.com.  

We’ll reply as soon as we can, although we are prioritising the identified ‘high-risk’ islands within stoat swimming distance of Mainland – Hoy, Rousay, Shapinsay, Flotta, Wyre, Graemsay etc – first, so it might take a while.

We want to say a HUGE thanks to everyone who has been in touch so far. If you’ve already been in touch and want to help more, please encourage others – your friends, family and neighbours – to drop us an email too. Thanks!

Heather (the SNH Graduate Placement we introduced last week) is getting stuck in straight away. Last Friday she was shown the ropes on Shapinsay by Carmen and Rebecca and she was in Hoy on Tuesday to help with latest trap checks there. She will now take over responsibility for both. And we should have more news about who was chosen for the SNH trapper vacancy.

Meanwhile, Rebecca and Carmen are part way through the sixth round of checks of the extended trapping trial. It will be the final one for the summer part of the trial. Hobbister and Wideford are finished and they are doing Grimbister today. So far, one stoat has been caught. It was caught in a double set trap in Wideford that was baited with egg. It brings the total so far to 13, which is a similar catch rate to what was recorded over the winter in the original trapping trial. And from the data so far, it seems that the double set traps (two traps in a single box) are the most effective and egg bait is popular too. We’ll know more for sure once we have a proper look at the data following the autumn phase of the trial.

While out checking the traps, they have enjoyed seeing lots of nice native wildlife including a merlin yesterday. And some spectacular views too.

We have just a few traps left to bring in. The ones we have bought in already are being cleaned up and checked ready for use in incursion responses should they be needed.


Orkney Mainland Predator Invasion Biosecurity Project

Our contractors have completed their final round of checks. One stoat was caught in Evie, but we haven’t heard about the traps in Stromness and Orphir yet. We should have the full report by the middle of August. Rebecca and Carmen will take over responsibility for the checks of these traps from August.


Incursion responses

Shapinsay: Carmen, Rebecca and Heather were out last Friday to check the Shapinsay traps as part of Heather’s induction and handover as she will now take over looking after this trap network. No stoats have been caught so far. Heather will be back out for her first solo visit tomorrow.

Hoy: The latest trap checks were started by Bea and Heather on Tuesday and Heather was back in Hoy yesterday and is there today too. The aim is to finish checking all the traps and cameras in the north of Hoy by the end of the day. So far, we’ve had no evidence of stoats and no stoats have been caught in the traps.

In the meantime, we are making progress getting access permissions but we’d really appreciate your help to finish this off.

If you own land in South Walls and Hoy, even if it is just your garden, and you haven’t heard from us, please get in touch by email.

And a big thanks to everyone who has given their support so far.


Answering your concerns…

Remember, if you have any comments or concerns please contact north@snh.gov.uk or orkney@rspb.org.uk, or by calling RSPB Scotland on 01856 850176 or SNH on the number below.

Once again, don't forget to keep reporting any sightings of stoats, as soon as possible, to SNH by calling 01856 886163, by emailing north@snh.gov.uk or through the ‘Stoats in Orkney’ Facebook page.

And to keep up-to-date with the project, please follow our Facebook page.