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Wild Mammals

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 20 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if she will place in the Library copies of the licences her Department has issued for traps to catch and kill wild mammals that are in force; [110750](2) if she will publish performance data on each trap for catching and killing wild mammals that has been tested and licensed by her Department; [110752](3) what assessment she has made of the compatibility of the standards applied by her Department and its predecessor to traps for catching and killing wild mammals as licensed by her Department with the International Trapping Standards; and if she will make a statement; [110751](4) whether she has assessed the compliance of traps used to catch and kill wild mammals for which a license is not necessary with

(a) the criteria her Department applies to licensed traps and (b) the International Trapping Standards; [110749]

(5) when her Department most recently carried out tests on traps used to catch and kill wild mammals licensed by her Department; what the purpose of such tests were; where the tests were conducted; what criteria were applied in assessing the results of these tests; and if she will place in the Library details of the conduct of these tests. [110753]

All traps must be submitted for approval and are tested for humaneness and efficacy by experts. Traps are approved by Orders made under The Pests Act 1954 which specify the traps that may be used, the manner of use and the species against which the trap may be used. The conditions of any approval are designed to ensure humane and selective operation. The use of unapproved spring traps has been prohibited in England and Wales since 1958. Spring traps specified by the Department as being adapted solely for the destruction of rats, mice or other small ground vermin, and for moles are exempted under the Small Ground Vermin Trap Order 1958.Particulars of the approvals given for traps to catch and kill wild mammals are detailed in the Spring Traps Approval Order. This is submitted to Parliament on a periodic basis, depending on the submission of traps, and lists all traps, manufacturers and terms of approved use at that time. Some further minor changes to this list (such as changes to a manufacturers trading details) were published by way of a MAFF press release dated February 1997. The performance of design is commercially confidential. Non disclosure of such commercial information is in accordance with Reg. 4(2)

(e) of the Environmental Information Regulations.

The Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards: http://www3.oup.co.uk/envlaw/hdb/Volume_12/Issue_03/supp_data/harrop_supp.pdf has been agreed by the European Commission, Canada and the Russian Federation but has yet to be enacted by the member states of the EU. As presently proposed, this agreement only applies to fur-bearing species. The only species currently listed in this agreement that occur in Britain are the otter, badger, pine marten and stoat, although additional species will be added in future. These species receive protection under The Badger Act 1992 and The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and, with the exception of the stoat, may not be trapped without a licence. The current testing procedures proposed within Annex 1 of the Agreement have been carried out on new traps since 1992. However, as this agreement has not yet been enacted, approval of such traps has been made on the basis that they are, at least, as humane as traps already approved for the same target species. This is only an interim arrangement. The Department will shortly attend an expert working group meeting on the implementation of humane trapping standards in the EU. This will offer an opportunity to discuss how the agreement might best be enacted and implemented in the UK. The enactment of the Agreement would require traps approved using earlier criteria to be retested and reapproved as appropriate.

Trap testing is conducted on a regular and ongoing basis as new trap designs are submitted for approvals by commercial companies. I am not prepared to discuss details in view of security considerations.