Quite simply, this is the term the UK government use to describe a killing trap which is driven by a spring and the statutory order for it to be used in the UK for specified species.
The Key points:
Driven by the Pest Act 1954 the spring trap approval order makes it an OFFENCE to use any spring driven traps other than the APPROVED traps.
There are exemptions, including break back traps for the killing of rats and mice and spring traps of a kind commonly used for catching moles.
History of the Spring Trap Approval Order (STAO)
First introduced 1957
Updated regularly since then with 'Variation'. Here I have added recent variations
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have their own variations of the Approval Order.
Confusingly updates to the different principalities variations are at different times and can be out of step.
A list can be found on the Gov.uk web site for variations here:
How do Spring traps reach approved status:
Rigorous field testing
Government sponsored trails
Order does allow for 'Equivalent' traps to be used instead of the NAMED manufacturer.
However, rarely are the equivalent traps as effective.
It is not illegal to sell substandard copy traps but it is illegal to use them.
Many traps important from the USA have UK specific variants - Be careful that they comply with the UK equivalent trapping order.
Imbra and Juby rabbit traps entered the STAO in 1951 and 1956.
Fenn, Springer and Solway have variations
BMI Bodygrip series of traps
when a trap is listed as an approval order:
The STAO states how the trap works and what species it can be used for.
E.g. the 2015 Goodnature traps were added. The order can be found here and the highlights below:
“Goodnature A24 Rat and Stoat Trap manufactured by or under the authority of Goodnature Limited, 4-12 Cruickshank Street, Kilbirnie 6022, Wellington, New Zealand. The trap may be used only for the purpose of killing stoats and rats. The trap must be so placed that it can only be entered by way of an artificial tunnel which is suitable for the purpose.”
Recent Spring Traps Approval orders Variations in the UK