Use of animals
Measuring Adelie chick flipper. Image – Kerry Barton
Working with animals is an essential component of our research on monitoring and protecting biodiversity and managing pests, and assisting TBfree New Zealand to eradicate Bovine Tuberculosis. We have a genuine commitment to the welfare and well–being of all animals (endangered native species or introduced pests) that goes beyond the minimum standard. All our research involving handling of live animals in the field or in captivity, including banding or tagging and attaching transmitters, must be approved by our Animal Ethics Committee (AEC). The AEC comprises two Landcare Research scientists, and representatives from the New Zealand Veterinary Association, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Māori and the public. The AEC’s role is to ensure that use of animals in research is kept to a minimum, complies with the Animal Welfare Act, and follows strict ethical guidelines and operating procedures. Between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2014, the AEC approved 24 new research applications and 5 amendments to approved applications.
At the conclusion of AEC–approved projects, the number of animals used and their fate are reported to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) on a calendar–year basis as required.
As part of our efforts to monitor and reduce the number of non–target animals caught during fieldwork, we record all target and non–target animals caught during all fieldwork, including AEC–approved projects and routine pest trapping that does not require AEC approval.
Across 9 routine trapping projects (which do not require AEC approval), 4722 target animals and 445 non–target animals, 2 of which were native riflemen, were caught during one field trip where commercially available sticky traps were set to sample invertebrates. Both birds regrettably had to be euthanased. However the capture method was subsequently modified with a wire frame, after which no additional vertebrate species were captured.