Approved Spring Traps

The Pests Act 1954 makes it is an offence to use or permit the use of any spring trap, other than an approved trap, for the purpose of killing or taking animals. The Act also makes it an offence to use or knowingly permit the use of an approved trap in circumstances for which it is not approved e.g. as a pole trap. The Small Ground Vermin Traps Order 1958 goes on to exempt (i) spring traps known as break-back traps & commonly used for destruction of rats, mice or other small ground vermin and (ii) spring traps of a kind commonly used for catching moles in their runs.

The Spring Traps Approval Order was first introduced in 1957 as part of the legislation to outlaw traditional gin traps, (which caught animals by their limbs), and replace them with more humane, instant kill traps. The Order has been updated several times since then and anyone using spring traps should be familiar with this Order and check regularly for updates. Importantly at the present time the authorities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all publish their own version of the Approval Order. Although generally very similar, these are often published at different times and so can become out of step; e.g. a trap may be approved or withdrawn for use in Scotland but not yet in England. The published Orders are easily available on the internet.
It is important to understand that the Order is not only very specific about traps, but also about which species each trap can be used to catch and the manner in which the trap may be used. There is no such thing as a ‘legal trap’, only traps approved for use in specified circumstances.

These Approved spring traps, are a mainstay of gamekeepers, farmers and pest controllers in the control of ground predators like rats, stoats, weasels and grey squirrels.