SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Pest Control

Animals in the Wild

SPCA values the lives of all animals and recognises that they are all equally deserving of protection from experiencing pain or distress.

SPCA acknowledges that many of the problems associated with wild animals considered pests in New Zealand are a result of human activities. Whether an animal is native or introduced, any measures taken to manage their impact or numbers must consider their capacity to experience pain or distress.

SPCA acknowledges that it is sometimes necessary to manage populations of species for a variety of reasons, including protecting biodiversity. In these instances, management activities should only use methods of population control that are humane, target-specific, and effective.

Animal population control methods should only be conducted as part of an integrated animal management programme, and lethal methods should only be used where there is no effective non-lethal, humane alternative available. At all times, care must be taken to minimise adverse effects of these activities on the welfare of both target and non-target animals.

SPCA opposes the use of methods of population control or management of wild animals that do not aim to minimise negative impacts to welfare.

A humane method is one that minimises pain or distress to target and non-target animals, and the humaneness of a method is influenced by the skill and competency of the operator.

SPCA recognises the following pest management methods that minimise welfare harms:

  • A killing method can be classified as humane where pain and distress are minimised, and a state of unconsciousness, followed by progression to death are both rapidly achieved. A relatively more humane death can be achieved by the following:
    • Lethally controlling animals by shooting is often considered a relatively more humane practice than other methods of control. A humane shooting is one that should result in the least amount of time between when the animal is shot and until it is insensible and dead.
    • Kill traps that pass standardised welfare performance testing that uses criteria which assesses physiological and behavioural responses and uses set thresholds for time to loss of consciousness.
  • Live-capture traps that use technologies such as remote-sensing that alert an operator when an animal has been captured. If live-capture cage traps are used without an alert system, then an operator should visit the trap more frequently than every twelve hours, depending upon the species targeted, the likelihood of catching a non-targeted animal, exposure to thermal extremes or inclement weather, the trap used, and its location. Non-targeted trapped animals must be released immediately after discovery. If the target species is caught and it is to be killed, the animal must be killed humanely as soon as possible.

SPCA advocates for research and development of humane alternatives for animal population control, including the replacement of lethal methods with effective non-lethal methods that minimise negative impacts to animal welfare, such as limiting reproductive abilities.

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