Welcome to the sixty-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 and this one too.

Orkney Native Wildlife Project

You may have seen that we have put out an appeal for landowners and homeowners to get in touch on the radio and in the paper. 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. We’ve been really pleased with the response so far and want to say a BIG thanks to everyone who has been in touch. Please bear with us while we process all the emails and please consider encouraging friends, family and neighbours to get in touch too.

We have been very busy shortlisting candidates for the second round of interviews – the Trapping Team (10 posts), Community Engagement Officer, Education Officer and Monitoring Officer who will look after the citizen science and research parts of the project – from the hundreds of applications we have received. The interviews will be in early January.

The tender document for the 10,260 wooden housings boxes is still live here and we will be accepting bids until January. Please share the link with anyone you think might be interested. We will be judging the bids on experience, service quality and price.

We have now submitted the order for 19,292 DOC 200 traps that we need for the eradication, biosecurity network and potential additional community-run traps too. This will allow the company to order the materials before Christmas and start making the traps from scratch in the new year. We are still waiting to hear back about when the first delivery will arrive in Orkney.

Trapping Trial

Rebecca was out yesterday collecting the final traps in Grimbister and Hobbister. The final traps in Wideford will be collected in the new year. We also want to collect in all the monitoring equipment, but this might take a little longer to do due to competing demands for the team’s time.

We’ve also sent letters to landowners who were kind enough to agree to have trapping trial traps on their land for the summer and autumn trials. So, if that is you then you should have received one. The letters included a feedback form and we want to say a big thanks to those who have sent theirs back. We would really appreciate it if others could take the time to fill them out so we know where we can make improvements.

Biosecurity trap network 

Mainland: Lindsey checked the Stromness traps last Friday, some of the Evie traps on Monday and will be in Rendall tomorrow. Frank from SNH is also planning to help this week doing part of the Evie network.

High-risk islands: Carmen checked the Graemsay biosecurity traps on Tuesday. The next checks of the Shapinsay traps are due on or around 21 December, but please continue to report any potential sightings as soon as you can as stoats could arrive at any time and could move between the islands and Mainland too.

Incursion responses

Hoy: Rebecca checked some of the traps in Hoy on Tuesday and went back today to finish this round, which is great as we were concerned that the wind might affect the ferries. No stoats have been caught yet and the volunteers are still working through the camera trap footage but haven’t found any stoats yet. A lot of other wildlife has been spotted though over the last months including this great footage of grouse (see our Facebook for the whole video).

South Walls: The next check is due next week and we are hoping to get it done before folk leave for Christmas holidays.

Answering your concerns…

Remember, if you have any comments or concerns please contact north@nature.scot or orkney@rspb.org.uk, or call 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.