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/.
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.