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Monday, 15 February 2016

Hunter Gatherer Ethics pt 4 (Non-target species)

Trapping can be an excellent part of an overall strategy for controlling pests and predators or gathering wild food. However there is an added complication with traps of the increased danger of catching things which your didn't mean to. 

This isn't normally such a problem when using firearms because you can see the animal you are aiming at, although there are cases of very irresponsible people shooting at silhouettes or just the glare of eyes in a lamp without properly identifying the target and shooting the wrong animal.

Just as the light from the camera flash is making these sika deer's eyes glow the light of a lamp can be used to illuminate the eyes of a range of targets, from rabbits to foxes, it is very irresponsible to shoot at eyes without positively identifying your target.

The problem with catching non-target species is that you may put yourself in a difficult legal position, for example by catching species which are protected, and there is the danger that you will compromise the population of species which you shouldn't be killing. 

This is a kania trap which we can use in the UK for trapping squirrels, mink and other small vermin, It can be baited to attract certain species and the trigger mechanism is designed in such a way as to prevent birds from setting it off easily.

The 'stops' on these snares prevent the snares from tightening up so tightly that they cut into a target species but they also used to be known as 'deer stops' as they prevent the snare tightening up on a deer's leg. 

The tunnel over this trap and the sticks in front of it are required to prevent non-target species being caught by the trap. In the UK the spring trap approval order requires that these spring traps be set in a tunnel.

In the picture below I have taken advantage of a hole at the bottom of a tree to set a trap in but have still used sticks to block off access to non-target species.

These are some common traps, all legal for use in the UK, which might be used for controlling pests and predators, from Back to Front; Kania 2000, Fenn Mk 6, Fen Mk 4, Magnum 110.

All those involved in trapping or hunting should be very careful to make sure they only catch the species they intended, accidents can happen with traps but if things are prepared and arranged properly these can be minimised.

Setting snares the correct height above the ground, four fingers high for a rabbit or a span and a half for foxes will ensure that you don't accidentally catch a badger which you all know walk with their heads fairly close to the ground so will just go under a fox snare. Or even better not using snares where you know badgers or other protected species are present.

Only using killing traps around water when you are sure you won't accidentally catch a water vole or otter instead of your targeted mink. These measures are not only important to keep you out of trouble but also to ensure the safety of protected species.


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