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Help required to safeguard Orkney native wildlife future

A stoat with a Orkney vole — one of the native species the Orkney Native Wildlife Project is seeking to protect.

The Orkney public can play a pivotal role in protecting the county’s internationally important native wildlife.

An appeal is being made to landowners and homeowners across Mainland Orkney and the linked South Isles to help save the Orkney vole, hen harriers, short-eared owls and other ground nesting birds from the threat of stoats, and assist in getting an ambitious five-year project, designed to eradicate the non-native predator from the islands, off the ground.

The £7.3 million Orkney Native Wildlife Project will see over 7,000 trap boxes set out across Orkney, however, before this can take place, the project must gather permissions from landowners and homeowners.

Speaking on behalf of the project, Bea Ayling said: “We are appealing for land and homeowners to get in touch as soon as possible by emailing ONWP.LandAccess@gmail.com. At this time, we are looking to simply secure initial access permissions. Then, once the project team is in place next year, we will be in touch to discuss and agree bespoke access arrangements that are specific to each land holding.”

Since being first recorded in the islands in 2010, stoats can now be found throughout the county and pose a serious threat to Orkney’s unique native wildlife.

Alongside the trap boxes, biosecurity traps will be placed on other islands to prevent the spread of stoats, and in addition, the project, which will employ up to 23 full-time staff in 26 roles, will also see a team of skilled trappers and the UK’s first team of stoat detection dogs be employed.

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