Welcome to the sixty-second 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 and this one too.

Orkney Native Wildlife Project

The closing date for the first six project jobs was on Monday so we are busy shortlisting and getting ready to invite people to interview. A big thanks to everyone who took the time to apply.

The other 13 posts – the Trapping Team (10 posts), Community Engagement OfficerEducation Officer and Monitoring Officer who will look after the citizen science and research parts of the project – are still open to applications until the 10th of December.

We have also finished the tender documents for the trap housings. These are up on Public Contracts Scotland and we will make sure it is circulated to joiners in Orkney and popped up on our Facebook page. We need 10,260 wooden housings boxes made to precise legal specification in two formats – single (cubby) and double (tunnel). The diagram below shows a single trap housing.

Single trap housings contain one trap as shown in the photo below. We often refer to them as single set traps.

Double trap housings are like a tunnel. The housing can be entered from either end and the bait is placed centrally between two active traps. These are known as double set traps and approximately 90% of the trap housings will be this style.

We will also be sending the order for 19,292 DOC 200 traps in the next few days to go in these housings. These traps will be used for the eradication operation and will also expand the biosecurity trap network on other islands to prevent stoats spreading. As you imagine that is a lot of traps and they are all made from scratch, so we expect them to start arriving by March next year.

On Tuesday afternoon, we were at the St Magnus Centre as part of the Orkney Tourism Week. Thanks to everyone who came along and who asked good questions and to the folk who showed interest in being more actively involved with the project. We are back at the same place tomorrow morning as part of the Orkney Local Access Forum Conference. Book your place here.

We’d love as many folk as possible to come along to hear an update on the project development work and an overview of what will be delivered through the project including how you can get involved.

Now that the recruitment is well underway and we are nearly finished with the trap order, we are stepping up efforts to secure land access permissions on Mainland and the connected isles. So, if you own land or a house in Orkney, and we haven’t spoken to you, please email us at ONWP.landaccess@gmail.com as soon as you can.


Trapping Trial

Carmen has been working on the data and starting to write the report in time fitted around trapping responsibilities and bringing the trapping trial traps in with Rebecca. These collected traps will be then be redeployed elsewhere (likely Rousay and Flotta) as part of the ongoing improvements to the biosecurity trap network designed to stop stoats spreading and provide an early warning system.

We want to once again thank all of the landowners who helped us run the trapping trial. We hope to get letters out to everyone with details of results from people’s own land in the next week.


Biosecurity trap network

Mainland: In order to keep on top of all the trap checks, Lindsey has kindly volunteered to spend extra time helping. She was in Stromness last Friday and Evie on Tuesday. One stoat was caught in the Stromness traps and one very newly caught stoat was found in the Evie traps despite the fish bait being a little old. Heather checked the traps in another Evie section too. The trap check rotation will begin again next week.

High-risk islands: Last Friday, Heather was out on Shapinsay to check the trap network there but we are still yet to find definitive evidence of stoats or catch any. Please continue to be vigilant and report any sightings as soon as you can though as stoats could arrive at any time and could move between the islands and mainland too.


Incursion responses

Hoy: Heather is in Hoy today doing trap checks of some of the traps that we haven’t been to for a few weeks because we’ve been focussing on rearranging other trap positions to create a more robust incursion response network.

And our hard-working volunteers are busy checking more trail camera trap footage from Hoy. We honestly can’t thank them enough and look forward to hearing what they find in the next few days.

South Walls: The plan was for Carmen, Rebecca and Lindsey to check all the South Walls traps tomorrow but the forecasted wind and bad weather has scuppered those plans and the checks will be delayed by a few days.


Answering your concerns…

Remember, if you have any comments or concerns please contact north@nature.scot 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@nature.scot or through the ‘Stoats in Orkney’ Facebook page.

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