The rescheduled CAN Small Mammal Handling Event finally took place at Risley Moss on Sunday 27th February 2011. 23 attendees were given the opportunity to handle a variety of small mammals including Wood Mice, Bank Voles and Common Shrew under the supervision of Rob Smith and Jeff Clarke. A total of 18 animals were captured from the 80 traps set overnight. This translates as a 22.5% catch rate, which is impressive for a late winter trapping session. After the morning round of trapping, the attendees were then split into two teams and challenged to set the traps in locations of their own choice.
We then retired for lunch, which included a delicious tomato and basil soup kindly supplied by Margaret McCormick, which was followed by a powerpoint session on various elements of small mammal handling. This included information that potential handlers need to be mindful of. This was duly followed by a session on pellet dissection, picking out the numerous bones and teeth of, mostly, Field Voles from Kestrel pellets. We then returned to the field to assess the trap laying skills of the participants, pointing out potential improvements to applied techniques to maximise catches.
Hopefully everyone went home feeling more confident about mammal handling and ready to take on further instruction in the future. Judging on the feedback received so far participants seemed to find the day both useful and enjoyable.
CAN and the course leaders would like to extend their thanks to Warrington Borough Council and the superb Ranger Service staff based at Risley Moss for their invaluable support and help in hosting and facilitating the event.