Welcome to the seventy-fifth stoat snippet!

These snippets are a short update on the Orkney Native Wildlife Project as well as addressing any concerns that folk have raised.

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

Apologies that we haven’t had a snippet for a few weeks, many of the team have been full of cold and we’ve been busy moving office too.

Our Senior Research Assistant, Thomas, and the three Research Assistants – Alexandra, Katherine and Sarah B – all started at the end of March. These roles will be doing the wildlife monitoring for waders, voles, meadow pipits and skylarks this spring and summer.

The team have been out practising survey techniques for voles.


To get ready for this important wildlife monitoring and for the eradication trapping later this year, we are contacting landowners to get permission to access their land.

As you may have seen in the paper or heard on Radio Orkney, we have been having a few complications with some farmers refusing permission because they want something done about the geese which are a big issue for them.

As a project, we are limited with what we can do to help farmers with geese. Our funding is specifically for protecting Orkney’s native wildlife by eradicating stoats and is not transferable. We are looking at how we can provide support though by investigating whether we can use goose meat as a bait in our traps.

And the three project partners are individually continuing to try to assist with the issue too. Staff representing the project and RSPB Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage met with local NFUS representatives last Monday are we are hopeful that quicker progress will now be made on things the partners can do individually to help Orkney’s farmers.

We really believe that working together to solve both the threat posed by stoats and the goose issue is the best approach and hope to have news soon that will help convince farmers to allow access for traps and monitoring. The future of Orkney’s native wildlife and our thriving wildlife tourism industry depends on it.

In the meantime, we would really appreciate folk who own land and are happy for wildlife monitoring and or trapping to take place getting in touch. Please email ONWP.landaccess@gmail.com or call 01856 850176 as soon as you can.


On Saturday 30th March seven keen members of the Orkney Native Wildlife Project team headed out to a small beach that is always full of litter (photo above) to take part in Bag the Bruck.  Nearly 3 hours later, the end result is clear to see! 


The team have also been busy moving in to the new office. It is so nice to have a place of our own and we hope that everything including internet and phone lines will be up and running very soon. This is the team having cake last week to celebrate.



We have also had another lot of drawings in from Burray and St Andrews Schools. They are all so good that it is hard to choose a few to share, but I have.



 We are still looking for help from local schools and youth groups by creating drawings of some of our native wildlife. For more details check out this snippet.

The company that will train the conservation detection dogs for the project, have started to look at picking puppies, so we should have some photos shortly. It’s a rigorous training programme to become a stoat sniffing dog, so it’s likely that not all the ones that start the training programme will make it on to the final project team, but we will make sure that those that have other skills go on to happy homes or other good causes. You can read about the crucial role these dogs will play in the project in this previous snippet.


Trapping Trial

We hope to have the final trapping trial report finished soon and will continue to bring in any monitoring tubes that are still in the field.


Biosecurity trap network

Mainland: The checks in Kirkwall and Stromness a few weeks ago caught nothing although one rat was caught in the Stromness traps last week.

Carmen met a lovely lady called Fiona a few weeks ago walking on Warebeth beach while checking the Stromness traps. Fiona has some camera traps on the beach linked to a project she is running on limpets. She sent a video of a stoat she captured on the shore back in April 2017. It’s an old clip but we were keen to share it.

 High-risk islands: The Graemsay and Shapinsay traps are not due to be checked yet. However, we managed to get the biosecurity trap network out on Rousay on 28th March.   



Incursion responses

Hoy: We checked part of the northernmost trap network on 26th March and part of South Walls on 27th March as well as adding five more cameras to increase the surveillance network. Heather and Marina have also been getting land access permissions in place for wader surveys. The weather caused a few problems for them completing the trap checks, but Heather hopes to get South Walls finished tomorrow and then more of Hoy on Wednesday and Thursday.

We’ve still not caught any stoats in Hoy or South Walls, despite suspicions one or more are present. We are investigating changing the bait that we are using in the traps to see if that makes them more successful. It’s crucial that folk remain vigilant and report any potential stoat sightings immediately.

South Walls: See above.


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 01463 701670, 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.