A reminder of rules for the use of leg-hold traps

09 March 2010

To many trappers, leg-hold traps are an essential tool for pest management. MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) is reminding users of the rules around their use.

The Animal Welfare (Leg-hold Traps) Order 2007 sets restrictions on the size and type of trap that can be used, as well as limiting the places where they may be used. In doing so, the ongoing use of certain traps is permitted while the welfare risk to pets is reduced.

Trappers in particular, need to be aware of the rules around the use of leg-hold traps to avoid committing an offence under the Animal Welfare Act.

Since January 2008, the use of all leg-hold traps within 150 metres of a dwelling (with the exception of DOC huts) has been forbidden without the express permission of the occupier. Use of leg-hold traps in any area where there is a probable risk of catching a pet animal is also forbidden.

At the same time, the sale of all leg-hold traps of size 1 ½ or larger was prohibited. An exception was made for the sale of size 1 ½ double-coil padded traps.

In January 2009, the use of long spring traps of size 1 ½ or larger (which includes the toothed Lanes Ace 'gin' trap) was prohibited. The use of double-coil traps larger than size 1 ½ was also prohibited.

To avoid the risk of prosecution, it is important that trappers are aware of further restrictions that come into force from 1 January 2011. From this date, the only size 1 ½ traps that will be permitted will be commercially-made, padded, double-coil traps. Traps cannot be modified to make them padded. Size 1 traps can still be used, whether padded or not, and whether long spring or double-coil.

Trap sizes are normally stamped on the trap itself. This should be used to determine whether a trap is lawful or not. If the trap does not have a size marking, it should be measured, taking all due safety precautions, to determine its size. Information on the correct measurement of leg-hold traps is available from

MAFBNZ also reminds users that the Animal Welfare Act requires that all traps intended to capture animals alive must be inspected within 12 hours of sunrise each day that the trap is set, starting the day after the trap was set. Failure to meet this requirement, or any of the requirements in the Animal Welfare (Leg-hold Traps) Order 2007, can result in a fine of up to $25,000 and/or six months in prison for an individual, or a fine of up to $125,000 for a body corporate.

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Last Updated: 22 September 2010

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