Animal welfare and pest management

Pest control helps protect New Zealand’s biodiversity and environment, keeps our food safe, and protects us from biosecurity threats. Animal welfare is also important, though. Find out how these factors are weighed against each other.

Pest control and animal welfare

There are animal welfare concerns for all forms of pest control. Welfare should be balanced against the need for pest control, and whether there are other control methods with less impact on welfare.

Animal welfare is not the only consideration when selecting a control method. For pest management programmes to be effective we also need to consider:

  • safety for pets
  • safety for users
  • environmental impacts
  • the effectiveness of the control method.

Information on these issues and a range of other topics are published on the Bionet website. Find out about:

Assessing the impact of pest control methods

Common pest control methods use in New Zealand have been assessed against 5 aspects of animal welfare:

  • thirst, hunger, and malnutrition
  • environmental challenge, such as being in a trap that's in the sun
  • being injured, sick, or not functioning normally
  • not being able to behave normally
  • anxiety, fear, pain, and distress.

This review found that cyanide had a low impact on welfare (causing loss of consciousness within minutes). 1080 received an intermediate impact score. Cholecalciferol and anticoagulants (such as brodifacoum) had the highest impact on animal welfare.

Download the 2011 review of the humaneness of pest control methods [PDF, 1.6 MB]

The graph shows the animal welfare impacts of 7 toxins used for possum control. These range from no impact to extreme impact and are plotted against duration of animal welfare impact (seconds, minutes, hours, days, or weeks).
Animal welfare impacts of poisons used for the control of brushtail possums.
Last reviewed: