Protect Orkney's native wildlife
The rugged isles of Orkney, alive with the distinctive calls of numerous breeding birds, are home to over 20% of the UK’s breeding hen harriers and a tenth of the UK’s red-throated diver population. The islands are one of the last places in the UK where curlew - one of Scotland’s most vulnerable birds - are still a common breeding species. These birds have flourished on Orkney thanks to the natural absence of mammalian predators, but in 2010 the presence of stoats was reported on the islands.
Voracious hunters that primarily feed on small mammals, eggs and the chicks of ground-nesting birds, stoats pose a serious threat to Orkney’s beloved birds and the endemic Orkney vole. We are on the verge of a tipping point - without intervention, we anticipate these non-native predators will cause devastating and irreparable damage to Orkney’s native wildlife.
What is being done?
The Orkney Native Wildlife project is a partnership that aims to ensure that the unique native wildlife of the Orkney Islands is safeguarded. While stoats are a part of Scotland’s wildlife and a sight to be treasured on the mainland, they are not native to Orkney and much of the native wildlife cannot adapt quickly enough to the presence of this new predator. As such, breeding populations of Orkney’s wildlife is at significant risk.
To safeguard the future of Orkney’s native wildlife, this project will work to remove stoats from Orkney and implement biosecurity measures to prevent them returning.
Can you make a donation to protect Orkney’s Native Wildlife?
How will I help?
Your donation is vital to returning Orkney to being a safe haven for vulnerable wildlife. The removal of stoats from Orkney is the largest stoat eradication in the world to date, requiring five years of monitoring and trapping stoats to ensure the islands are free from this non-native species.
Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, the project was forced to cease active work for three months. This delay coincided with the spring breeding and dispersal of young stoats, threatening to undo the progress that had already been made. Without immediate action, stoat populations may recover or spread to islands that are currently stoat-free.
Additional trapping is now needed and the project will need to run a further year if we are to succeed and completely remove all stoats from the islands. We have secured emergency funding to help support this additional work from some of our original project partners. Despite this, the RSPB still needs to raise an additional £50,000 per year in order to deliver the project, at a time when Covid-19 has already limited our ability to raise money and our own financial reserves are under pressure. If we fail to remove stoats, Orkney's populations of curlews, hen harriers and many ground-nesting birds will be at serious risk.