Conservation at Work

Blog & News


4th January 2024

Andrew Gilruth, CEO of the Moorland Association, has today highlighted the need for effective predator control and value for money for the public, in a letter published in The Times (below).

This follows the revelation earlier this week that a scheme, operated by RSPB, NatureScot and Orkney Island Council,  to eradicate stoats in Orkney had removed only 5,600 stoats so far and that significant additional funding may be needed to complete the job. Stoats eat the islands’ native voles, (which in turn provide food for raptors including hen harriers), and prey on ground-nesting birds such as curlews and Arctic terns.

The eradication project branded the invasive species “a serious threat to the islands’ native wildlife and economy”.

The text of the letter is as follows:


It took 24 professional trappers just nine years to successfully eradicate 34,000 non-native coypu, a large beaver-like rodent, from East Anglia in the 1980s.

Within the same time frame environmental organisations and statutory bodies with a public grant six times as large have kill just 5,600 stoats on Orkney with no end in sight (“Halt £16m scheme to kill Orkney stoats, urge insiders”, Jan 2).

The key difference appears to be that the coypu project knew it would end after 10 years, whatever the result, and that if the trappers were successful they would get a bonus of up to three times their annual salary, declining as the 10-year deadline loomed.

Perhaps it’s time for the Public Accounts Committee to ensure taxpayers are still getting value for money from current conservation projects.



Did You Know?

75% of Europe’s remaining upland heather moorland is found in the UK – but this area declined alarmingly over the latter part of the last century. The Moorland Association was set up in 1986 to coordinate the efforts of moorland owners and managers to halt this loss, particularly in England and Wales.

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