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:
- information on animal welfare and the ethics of pest management
- best practice information
- results from animal welfare testing of traps and devices
- legislative requirements
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]
Show/hide information on this graph
The graph shows the animal welfare impacts of 7 toxins used for possum control. Possible Impacts scores range from no impact to extreme impact and are plotted against duration of animal welfare impact (seconds, minutes, hours, days, or weeks). Cyanide has mild to moderate impacts for minutes, followed by phosphorous with moderate to severe impact for hours. 1080 and zinc phosphide have a moderate to extreme impact for hours. The highest impact for the longest duration is from cholecaciferol, brodifacoum, and pindone. These range from severe to extreme and last for days to weeks.
[End of transcript]
Pest management is important
Pest management is important. It helps to:
- protect New Zealand's biodiversity and environment
- maintain our biosecurity
- ensure food safety.
Find out about pest management work being done by MPI, the Department of Conservation, and other organisations.
Read about how MPI responds to pests and disease outbreaks
Find out about MPI's work in long-term pest management programmes
Pests and threats – Department of Conservation
Regional council pest management plans – Bionet
Legal requirements for pest management
Pest control options include traps and devices and poisons.
Find out about legal requirements for traps and devices
Find out about legal requirements for poisons
Ongoing commitment to animal welfare
Scientists have looked at how we use poisons and how they affect animal welfare. For example, research has helped us to reduce the number of possums that receive low doses of 1080. Low doses can mean that the animal takes longer to die, or the dose may not kill them at all. Either of these can prolong the suffering of the animal.
Read the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee's (NAEAC) occasional paper on research into pest control methods [PDF, 415 KB]
The government funds research to find new pest control techniques.