DEFRA approve new indiscriminate ‘vermin’ trap.

19 comments to DEFRA approve new indiscriminate ‘vermin’ trap.

  • Imagine kids putting their fingers up there!!

  • Albert Ross

    I am not sure what there is to protest about. As I see it the trap is non toxic, death being by a sharp blow,after which the victim falls away and the trap resets.
    The corpses are then cleared by scavengers that are in no risk of being poisoned as they would be by ‘pests’ killed by toxic means. I don’t see a Red Kite, Buzzard or Crow getting its head in range of the ‘hammer’ although the same cannot be said for inquisitive smaller birds such as Nuthatch.
    So ruling out an objection on the grounds of no risk of “by kills” to raptors we are left with the risk of collateral killing of other small mammals such as Red Squirrels, Voles etc., That I DO find unpleasant and objectional!
    However to be a tad controversial I relish the thought that it will also work on Grey Tree Rats (akas Squirrels).
    Perhaps the views of The Mammal Society should be sought as well as the Vinson Trust who are re-introducing Pine Martens into England & Wales with some success?

  • Trapit

    A wire cage could be fitted,to hopefully exclude anything bigger than Stoat or Grey Squirrel.They should probably not be used in areas where Red Squirrel are present.
    However, this would be cumbersome and time consuming, and would make it difficult for scavengers to remove victims.
    Anyway, an old trick for catching Stoats is to leave a trapped animal,particularly a bitch, on top of the tunnel to attract further catches,i have sometimes had them there for weeks,so you can’t rely on victims being scavenged away.
    I think these traps are designed for use in wilderness areas,to remove alien species threatening native wildlife.
    As such there may not be the manpower available to check them regularly.

  • david holden

    The A24 was a neat solution in NZ to remove non native vermin like rats and stoats from sensitive areas and as they have just about no native ground vermin the chance of a bycatch was nil. It should not be beyond the wit of man to tweak the system in this country to eliminate most unwanted kills. If set for grey squirrels set it up a tree in areas free from reds if for rats set inside a structure or cage accessed by a ramp or rope with a small entrance . The trap from the raptor persecution point of view has a several things going for it 1 I cannot see how it can be used to trap raptors. 2 It is expensive so unliekly to be used by the casual idiot. 3 No toxins like rat poisons are used so cannot end up in the raptor food chain. Getting it banned may not be the way forward. I await the measured response of the no kill anything lobby .

  • Keith Cowieson

    Albert Ross and Trapit have it right. The device uses specially tailored baits to attract the specific problem species’ it is targeting, and wire/plastic excluders could be easily fitted to minimise risk to non-target species. Use in red squirrel areas would be problematic, but there are many, many areas in UK where there are no reds (due to squirrelpox-carrying, invasive, non-native grey squirrels).

    For example, the sooner this multi-shot, non-toxic, device is cleared for use by SNH in the Orkneys where non-native stoats have become established, the better. Vulnerable ground-nesters such as waders of conservation concern (curlew, lapwing, ringed plover etc), accessible seabird colonies (eg great and arctic skua, arctic terns, red-throated divers, puffins & shearwaters), and ground nesting birds-of-prey such as Orkney’s nationally important populations of hen harrier, merlin and short-eared owl, are all at risk. Non-native hedgehogs have wreaked havoc on nationally and international waders of conservation concern in the Outer Hebrides. We mustn’t let non-native stoats do the same in the Orkneys.

    Finally, there are no red squirrels or nuthatches in the Isles and the few hedgehogs are also recently introduced, non-native mammals.

  • David Hunt

    The A 24 Goodnature trap cannot be accurately described as “indiscriminate” and if it were so, it would not have been approved for use both here, NZ and many other countries worldwide.
    The very fact that the attractants are tailored to be species specific make it a complete game-changer in the control of target species.
    By-kill is an issue with any control system but so far the feed back we have had from sales in England has indicated that this has not been a problem. Hedgehogs seem to be the major cause for concern as they are a target species in NZ and are mentioned as such on the NZ website. This is certainly not the case here and every trap is issued with clear instructions how to avoid catching Hedgehogs, which is very easy, simply make sure that the traps is at least 30cm above the ground and then they cannot reach in!
    A version for Squirrel control is currently undergoing AIHTS testing and we hope to have approval and inclusion on the STAO’s later this year.There will obviously be limitations in using this version within known Red Squirrel ranges, but there is an awful lot of the UK where the Red squirrel is absent and the Grey has completely taken over, causing a huge amount of damage to both trees and bird life. What other options for control do we have which are species specific, will kill humanely everytime, is completely free of toxins and requires only periodical checks? Goodnaturetraps UK

    Editors Comment David thank you for this update, much appreciated

    • lizzybusy

      Could you explain how pole cats could be excluded from these traps? They are a similar size to stoats and would be attracted to similar bait and they are a protected species.

      I take your point about the trap height being adjustable to exclude non target species but these traps have been designed in New Zealand to exterminate non native species such as hedgehogs. I’ve rescued and cared for hedgehogs. They vary considerably in size and some larger hedgehogs can be a similar size to stoats. In my opinion, there is a genuine risk to hedgehogs from these traps which I understand one hedgehog protection group is concerned about. Hedgehogs would also be lured to the trap with the bait.

      The research produced by A24 also shows some animals becoming jammed in the trap. I am concerned an injured hedgehog, cat or other animal which activated the treddle with its paw or head may become trapped.

      Pine martens may also be at risk – also legally protected.

      I am not sure about the New Zealand Department for Conservation’s level of research on the capture and injury levels of non target species with these traps but the Canadian Institute of Fur (which researches traps for the Canadian government) does not test on non-target species. Therefore, where is the evidence that there will not be an impact on non target species by thus prolific killing device?

      Another concern I have is the inspection regime. The A24 can re-set itself for months. All traps accidentally injure animals and birds. Given that the Spring Traps Approval Orders do not provide inspection requirements (other than follow the manufacturer’s instructions if any (which there aren’t here) will this addition protection be offered?

  • Keith Cowieson

    Roll on the grey squirrel control version. This will be immensely helpful for red squirrel reintroduction projects such as that envisaged for Cornwall –

    Editor’s comment. Kieth, these units will almost certainly be too expensive to use in the quantities required to control the grey squirrel.

  • Alex Milne

    The scope for non target species being killed in my opinion suggests that it should only be used under licence, the user being required to complete a form and a report giving full details of the proposed use before approval.
    I do recognise that this would obviously severely limit the uses, but in some cases it might well be an appropriate device, perhaps requiring camera trap evidence for the first month in some cases.
    This device could decimate pine martens where they are known to exist, particularly at the edge of their range. I can’t see how it could discriminate between red and grey squirrels.

    • lizzybusy

      Unfortunately the A24 will be legally governed by the Spring Traps Approval Order which does not make any such provisions or monitoring systems (unlike the wildlife (general, class and individual) licensing schemes under which bird cage traps are permitted.

      However, trappers are required, under the STAOs to target the traps. Whilst I personally think your idea would be a humane way of identifying target and non target species in an area before use of a trap, there are no specific requirements for such action.

      Sadly, I think it will be up to the game keeper to decide the level of care he takes in monitoring the site for non target species before he sets the trap. There will be no monitoring of his risk assessment.

  • Keith Cowieson


    I think, and hope, that they will prove to be both operationally and cost effective, particularly in targeted clearance operations like those envisaged and indeed underway, for the Lizard and Land’s End peninsulas in Cornwall – see the link above. The trick there will be to rapidly clear areas with high densities of greys, and then to maintain a more measured and constant effort to ensure no recolonisation takes place in the run-up to the planned reintroduction of reds.

    On the cost issue, in 2014, Defra undertook to introduce a specific grey squirrel management prescription within the multi-annual agreement for woodland management in Countryside Stewardship (in addition to the funding available for grey squirrel control to support red squirrel populations). Landowners would be
    required to adopt this option where grey squirrels are identified as a
    significant threat to the management objectives. Therefore, government funding/incentives should already be available to help defray such costs.

  • Keith Cowieson

    Further to my Comment above, here is a link to the applicable Countryside Stewardship grant, WD2, Woodland Improvement Option –

  • Albert Ross

    Whilst it was pleasing to read David Hunt’s measured response about bait being species specific I think more work is required on prevention of by-kill of Hedgehogs should it be required. They will not find a climb of 30cm (12 inches)much of a problem. I have seen instances of them climbing much higher to get at a clutch of eggs. Having seen what damage can be wrought on nesting Terns etc., I hold no brief for Mrs Tiggywinkle but simply seek to put the record straight. Of course the entrance hole can be of such diameter as to preclude much of her round body from getting far enough inside.

    I am also concerned about possible impact on the renascent population of Martens and, dare I say it, Polecats.

    • lizzybusy

      See my reply to Me Hunt and my comments a few comments below.

      I agree with you. The Mammal Society and other animal or bird welare organisations should be should be consulted.

      There is due to be a consultation on the AIHTS and compliant traps in the spring.

  • well done DEFRA – congratulations for spending tax payers money on another wildlife killing appliance.
    you can say that its quite good, its not really great, its fantastic and I say I am so so sick of the support that goes to landowners who make money from their pheasant shoots and put up various types of traps to kill our wildlife.

    I cannot tell you how much I loath and detest you shooters, you poisoners and all those you seem to relish more and more ways of ridding our countryside of our wildlife.

    I’ve seen snares and what they do to animals. any person who thinks they are acceptable is sick, cruel and very dumb.

  • lizzybusy

    All this relates to the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards which set minimum kill times for killing traps for use with stoats and a number of other fur bearing mammals. The government was supposed to implement the international treaty by the end of July last year but, without even submitting a request to the EU to delay implementation, the government set up an implementation plan which suggested that implementation could be delayed for two years.

    This ministerial decision was made following an industry lobby group meeting held in January 2016 attended by approximately 16 representatives and apologies from approximately 15 industry lobbyists and was made despite aihts compliant New Zealand DOC traps already being approved for use as a spring trap on stoats.

    Members of the group together with DEFRA officials drew up criteria for acceptable terms that Aihts compliant spring traps would have to meet including:

    “Ideally, the traps should be comparable in size to those currently available to allow
    setting in existing tunnels/locations.

    Approvals should allow for the use of run through tunnels that are not part of the trap
    itself or, if the tunnel is incorporated with the trap, it must not prevent the use of the trap
    in the range of situations it could be used in the UK”

    The DOC traps can be used as run through aand are comparable in size to Fenn traps. The trouble was two-fold.

    The trap is fitted into a box of specific dimensions with fitted baffles and
    The trap and tunnel together cost a little over 50 pounds.
    So, for 8 months DEFRA has allowed the continued use of the proven inhumane Fenn traps.

    Now DEFRA is saying the A24 trap will be approved despite it not meeting the very criteria that the DoC traps was rejected for!

    Something tells me that the industry likes the A24 so, suddenly, the criteria are changed and these prolific killing devices look set to be approved even though the research the government is reaching its decision on does not examine the potential impact on non target species.

    I believe the only animal ‘welfare’ organisation consulted was the laboratory which conducted some research on various traps – the results of which DEFRA have been refusing to give me for 8 months!

  • lizzybusy

    I’ve just double checked the claim in this post that the A24 trap was approved last year. This is not correct. The A24 trap has NOT been approved yet. The latest variation amendments to the Spring Traps Approval (England) Order is available here:

    I understand the Welsh Government is going to add the A24 to its spring trap approvals ordering along with the DOC traps.

    The English and Scottish government have stated that they will consult on the A24 in the spring.

    So, if anyone has concerns over the potential for protected species like polecats, hedgehogs and pine martens or pets to be injured – badly injured – by this trap then the time to act is now!

    Write to:

    Dr Therese Coffey MP
    Permanent Under Secretary of State
    Dept. for Environment Food and Rural Affairs
    Nobel House
    17 Smith Square
    London SW1P 3JR

    Or email Defra on

  • cameraman

    re:The Good nature A24 trap. Having watched the various clips of the trap in use, I felt I had to comment; first the good points; (1) It seems to be a very efficient and very humane quick killing trap. (2) Non toxic kill, which if found by any predator especially Birds of prey will not induce secondary toxic effects.
    Now the bad points; (1) It will kill non target species; inc small Birds, Mammals and probably Reptiles inc Adders, Grass Snakes, Slow Worm and Smooth Snakes, regardless of what bait or attractant is used they are inquisitive and will investigate any holes and tunnels. (unless used solely indoors for Brown Rats and House Mice) other approved traps can and do kill non target and protected species, the A24 trap has the ability to eradicate all the non target species due to scent or the corpse left of the previous non target possibly family member or sibling however a single kill and hold trap will only kill 1 until it is reset, and if set by a responsible and law abiding person (who respects the natural environment and doesn’t have the kill all except my game birds mentality) remember a Stoat even on a grouse moor will overall do more good than harm in the amount of Brown Rats that they kill on a daily basis (Brown Rats will take more Red Grouse eggs and chicks than stoats) Stoats do like eggs, however they will not survive on eggs its nutritionally impossible.
    (2) Cost, fairly expensive and highly visible (although could be hidden with foliage etc) to anyone wanting to steal or damage.
    (3)Alternative approved single kill traps are already available.
    To be honest the best way to be sure of not killing any non target species is the proper use of cage traps.PS I see it from every angle its my job, but more importantly my life and the wildlife. Yours Andrew, Professional pest controller, falconer and wildlife lover.