Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Welfare performance of animal traps

The following information relates to the welfare performance of traps used in New Zealand for capturing and/or killing small to medium-sized mammals. The tests relate to the welfare performance of the traps, NOT to their capture efficiency, safety, costs, or target specificity.

In New Zealand, trap use is regulated by the Animal Welfare Act 1999. This Act permits any trap to be used for trapping any species, but it also enables the Minister of Agriculture to recommend to the Governor General traps that should be prohibited because they cause unacceptable pain and suffering.

To enable the welfare performance of traps to be assessed in a standardised way, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) has developed a trap-testing guideline. This guideline is available from the Ministry of Primary Industries website.

MAF has publicly notified the prohibition of some leg-hold (foot-hold) traps, including the Lanes-Ace gin trap (and similar long-spring traps) and double-coil spring traps of a size 1½ and larger. This prohibition does not restrict the use of the smaller no. 1 models. Details of the prohibition can be found at: http://mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/animal-welfare/traps-and-devices/.

Results

The table gives the results of kill-trap tests carried out by Landcare Research, showing which traps killed their target animals quickly and consistently enough to meet the NAWAC guidelines. These results DO NOT imply the traps have been approved by NAWAC, MAF, or Landcare Research, because the Welfare Act 1999 does not enable the Minister to approve traps, but only to prohibit traps.

There are no legal requirements for trap manufacturers or suppliers to submit traps for testing, so some commercially available traps might be available for purchase that have not been tested.

The welfare of trapped animals does not depend solely on the trap, but also on how the trap is baited, and where and how the trap is set. Information on how to improve the welfare of trapped animals is provided in the National Possum Control Agencies Publications 'A' series: best practice guidelines for controlling and monitoring vertebrate pests.

The testing of traps and identification of traps that perform poorly will, over time, ensure the welfare of trapped animals in New Zealand improves. Results from pen and field-based research will continue to add to our ‘best practice’ knowledge of how traps can best be used to trap a range of target species.

Updated January 2017

Publications

  • Warburton B, Poutu N 2008. Effectiveness of chain-springs on leghold traps for reducing injuries to captured brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula). New Zealand Journal of Zoology 35(2): 147-150.
  • Warburton B, Poutu N, Peters D, Waddington P 2008. Traps for killing stoats (Mustela erminea): improving welfare performance. Animal welfare 17: 111-116.
  • Warburton B 2004. Do chain springs on leghold traps reduce injuries to captured possums? Surveillance 31(1): 19-20.
  • Warburton B, O'Connor C 2004. Research on vertebrate pesticides and traps : do wild animals benefit? Atla-Alternatives to Laboratory Animals 32 Supplement 1A: 229-234.
  • Blackwell GL, Potter MA, McLennan JA 2002. Rodent density indices from tracking tunnels, snap-traps and Fenn traps : do they tell the same story? New Zealand Journal of Ecology 26(1): 43-51.
  • Morriss GA, Warburton B, Ruscoe WA 2000/9. Comparison of the capture efficiency of a kill-trap set for brushtail possums that excludes ground-birds, and ground set leg-hold traps. New Zealand journal of zoology 27(3): 201-206.
  • Warburton B, Gregory NG, Morriss G 2000/1. Effect of jaw shape in kill-traps on time to loss of palpebral reflexes in brushtail possums. Journal of wildlife diseases 36(1): 92-96.
  • Thomson C, Warburton B, Drew K 1999. Kiwi-safe kill traps for possums. Conservation advisory science notes. 222. Wellington, Department of Conservation. -10 p.
  • Nutman AW, Gregory NG, Warburton B 1998/10. A comparison of the effectiveness of three neck-hold killing traps in occluding carotid arteries in the neck of the brushtail possum. New Zealand veterinary journal 46(5): 177-181.
  • Warburton B 1998. Evaluation of escape rates by possums captured in Victor No.1 Soft Catch traps. New Zealand journal of zoology 25: 99-103.
  • Warburton B, Orchard I 1996. Evaluation of five kill traps for effective capture and killing of Australian brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula). New Zealand journal of zoology 23(4): 307-314.
  • Warburton B, Hall JV 1995/2. Impact momentum and clamping force thresholds for developing standards for possum kill traps. New Zealand journal of zoology 22(1): 39-44.
  • Caley P 1994. Factors affecting the success rate of traps for catching feral pigs in a tropical habitat. Wildlife research 21(3): 287-292.
All Publications