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Licences for shrews and water voles

Shrews

Shrews receive partial protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).  This means that it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly trap them.

If you live-trap small mammals for survey or monitoring purposes and if there is a risk that you will catch shrews then you should employ measures such as shrew escape holes in traps.  If this cannot be avoided or if you intend to trap shrews for scientific, research or educational purposes, then you should apply to Scottish Natural Heritage for a licence.

Guidance for shrew trapping  PDF document  

If you wish to apply for a licence please email licensing@snh.gov.uk with:

  •  your name, address, telephone number; 
  •  full details of your project/proposal including what you want to do, who will be doing it, where you want to do it and when you want to do it;  
  • completed reference forms  Word document (if this is the first time you have applied for a licence for this activity we will require two references from people who are familiar with your work in this area and who can vouch for your competence in carrying out this type of work).

Water voles - survey, science and research licences

Water voles receive partial protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.   This means that it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place used for shelter or protection.  Water voles are also protected against disturbance whilst occupying such structures.

There should be no need for a licence to carry out a basic survey for water voles providing that you take reasonable precaution to avoid intentionally or recklessly disturbing these animals in their burrows, or possibly damaging their burrows. If such disturbance cannot be avoided, or if you are planning to carry out research or educational work that would otherwise result in an offence in relation to this species, Scottish Natural Heritage is the licensing authority.

If you wish to apply for a licence for a research or educational project please email licensing@snh.gov.uk with:

  • your name, address, telephone number;
  • full details of your project/proposal including what you want to do, who will be doing it, where you want to do it and when you want to do it;
  • completed reference forms  Word document (if this is the first time you have applied for a licence for this activity we will require two references from people who are familiar with your work in this area and who can vouch for your competence in carrying out this type of work).

Water voles - licensing for social, economic or environmental purposes

It is possible to licence activities that could affect water voles for social, economic or environmental reasons. This could cover a range of activities including development. However, it is important to note that licences may only be issued for this purpose provided that:

  • the activity authorised by the licence will contribute to significant social, economic or environmental benefit;
  • there is no other satisfactory solution  PDF document  (this is assessed in the same way that we assess European protected species licensing Test 2 - No satisfactory alternative).

Guidance for applicants  PDF document - on the licensing purpose for non-bird species protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 for 'social, economic or environmental purposes'.

If water voles or their burrows are likely to be found in or close to the site in question then it is strongly recommended that you have a survey undertaken by a suitably qualified and experienced person. If they are found then the surveyor should identify what impact the proposal might have on them and whether or not the proposed works could result in an offence.

Application form for works affecting water voles  Word document

Where translocation of water voles is proposed, evidence will be required that a rigorous assessment of the carrying capacity of the receptor site has been completed prior to a licence being issued. This is particularly important in cases where the proposed release stock are the result of captive breeding (e.g. following capture of animals from a development/donor site in a previous year). If being held in captivity for this purpose, different genetic strains must be kept separate at all times with no opportunity of cross-breeding. This is particularly important with respect to the genetic differences that exist between Scottish and English/Welsh water voles. Further guidance on translocations is available in The Water Vole Mitigation Handbook external site .

Water voles - possession of specimens

Because water voles are only partially protected in Scotland, there is no offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of possession of water voles or parts of water voles. 

Licence returns

It is a condition of each licence that a return is submitted. Please refer to your licence for the relevant return information required and send to licensing@snh.gov.uk clearly stating your name and licence number in the subject.

Renewals and amendments

If you hold a licence which you wish to renew or you wish to amend your licence you can:

  • telephone 01463 725364 (please make sure you have your licence number to hand);
  • or email licensing@snh.gov.uk putting your licence number in the subject.

For further information or advice please email licensing@snh.gov.uk or telephone 01463 725364.



Last updated on Monday 5th September 2016 at 11:30 AM. Click here to comment on this page