Q: I hear that Fenn traps will no longer be approved as of next year. What trap designs should I be looking to use?

AUSTIN WELDON replies: The general licensing of birds has been hogging the lime-light recently, but you are right - tunnel trapping is changing due to the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS). This is a fur trade agreement which sets new standards for animal welfare. Essentially, if a trap design does not kill an AIHTS listed species in a specified time-scale, approval is withdrawn.

For stoats (an AIHTS listed species, and the reason the UK got caught) this has been set at 45 seconds. Species other than stoats can still be targeted with our traditional traps, but stoats are difficult to exclude while permitting access for species such as grey squirrels, rats and weasels. Consequently, intentionally setting non-approved trap designs where stoats are known to live would be risky.

Now is a sensible time to review your approach to the control of the small mammals. In England, Scotland, Wales and NI we have until 1 April 2020 to continue using our existing designs, after which we will no longer be able to target stoats with Fenn-type, Magnum-type or WCS tube traps.

Looking to the future, new designs are gradually emerging which are approved for use on stoats, but one thing is for sure, the cost of humaneness is more financial expense. There will also be a learning curve as we get to know how to use the new designs to best effect.

Current designs that have approval in various forms include options such as CMI Springs (the DOC traps), the Tully Trap, and designs from Goodnature. Other companies may be awaiting testing too. There is a comprehensive article on the GWCT website where you will find information explaining the available designs, the configurations they must be set in and the species they can be used to target.

www.gwct.org.uk/advisory/faqs/aihtsJOHN CLARKE also replies: Up until April 2020, you will still be allowed to trap stoats in Fenn traps, and after that Fenn traps will still be legal but you will only be able to catch weasels, rats and squirrels in them. Two new traps that came in under the Spring Trap Approval Order in the UK are the DOC series from New Zealand and the Tully Trap (as mentioned above). Both of those traps fall into the higher welfare standard of the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS). At this point I must say that if it wasn't for serious lobbying from the NGO and other organisations, the Fenn would have been made illegal for stoats in 2017 with no replacement.

One thing to be aware of if you are setting a DOC trap is that the approval of the DOC is dependent on the user following the manufacturer's instructions, which require baffles either side of the treadle plate. These instructions can be found on the manufacturers website: www.cmisprings.com/predatortraps.html. To confuse matters even more, make sure that you download the correct instructions for the UK and not the ones relevant to other countries.