This project reviewed best practice documentation about humane and effective vertebrate pest control to inform work by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) and the proposed Ministry For Primary Industries (MPI) Biosecurity Toolbox manager on guidelines for the use of traps or devices and hunting or killing of wild animals and animals in a wild state for the purposes of pest management.
The specific objectives were to:
• Assess the available New Zealand best practice information on methods used to control vertebrate pest species in New Zealand and the need for guidance on aspects of use to limit animal welfare impacts; and,
• Identify needs for new best practice, or alignment of best practice, to ensure more humane vertebrate pest management in New Zealand.
Best practice information was sought from a range of agencies, organizations, and pest control companies and contractors for all vertebrate pests controlled by the Department of Conservation, the Animal Health Board and regional councils and the control methods used. Hunting and fishing were included when used primarily as control methods. Relevant organizations in Australia and the UK were also contacted. We found that for most vertebrate pests in New Zealand there is some documentation about best practice use of control methods but, in relation to animal welfare, this is often limited to legal or commercial requirements and, for traps, to an indication of whether they have passed the NAWAC trap-testing guidelines. Gaps in coverage of both species and control tools were identified.
The key findings were that;
– The principles underlying improvement in animal welfare in pest management have been clearly defined but are not clearly articulated in one publicly accessible document.
– The existing in-house or publicly available documentation provides the basis for a systematic coverage of animal welfare considerations in vertebrate pest control in New Zealand. This would be enhanced by addressing the identified gaps in coverage of species and control tools.
– The New South Wales Department of Primary Industry Manual on Humane Pest Animal Control provides a good framework for the production of guidelines, Codes of Practice (COPs), and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in a form suitable for inclusion in the pest management toolbox.
– The current lack of restrictions on the introduction of new traps and devices (except those involving toxins) for vertebrate pest control has potential negative welfare implications.