As many of our members may have been aware, DEFRA has been conducting a consultation on the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) which has now concluded.
Changes will be made to UK legislation as a result of European Union Law and although the UK has decided to leave the EU, we are currently still full members and therefore subject to EU Law.
The aim of the consultation was to ensure sufficient measures were in place and where necessary improve the level of welfare afforded to trapped animals. The agreement covers trapping of animals for fur, skin or meat, conservation, pest control and general wildlife management purposes.
The legislation covers the Stoat; European Badger; European Beaver; European Otter and Pine Martin. However, the main area in which these changes will affect our industry is in the trapping of stoats as DEFRA recognise that only the stoat is widely trapped in the UK and the only one where kill traps are regularly used.
As part of the changes, amendments will be made to the Wildlife and Countryside act as early as 2019. Northern Ireland will also implement changes to their own act.
The consultation resulted in nearly 400 responses. This concluded that most respondents were in favour of improvements in welfare, however, many were concerned that the proposed introduction of the changes in January 2019, would mean that insufficient numbers of approved stoat traps would be available in time.
The majority of respondents agreed with DEFRA’s proposed approach to live capture traps which included the introduction of the live capture trapping of stoats under general license using AIHTS-compliant traps. This to minimise the licensing impact on trappers and licensing authorities. However, only compliant traps will be licensed and therefore noncompliant traps will likely be prohibited from the proposed implementation date of January 2019.
Under the proposed changes, trappers will also be required to be trained in safe, humane and efficient use of trapping methods, although it would appear that the information provided with the traps will be considered sufficient for this purpose.
Certified traps will also be required to be marked in such a way that the markings are still legible after many years of use. To this end DEFRA are proposing that traps be embossed onto a plate which should be rivetted (or similar) to the trap body.
In response to respondents’ concerns, the government accepted that implementing AIHTS in January 2019 would cause difficulties for people trapping stoats and that sufficient time is required for manufactures to produce compliant traps in adequate quantities as many existing traps will need to be replaced.
As a consequence, DEFRA propose to implement the changes under AIHTS as early as possible in 2019. However, there will be a delay in the implementation of stoat by approximately one year, nevertheless the changes are coming.
Ref: Defra.gov.uk, July 2018