Minimizing Harm in Possum Control Operations and Experiments in New Zealand
Source: Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, Volume 16, Number 4, 2003 , pp. 367-385(19)
Pest control operations and experimentation on sentient animals such as the brushtail possum can cause unnecessary and avoidable suffering in the animal subjects. Minimizing animal suffering is an animal welfare goal and can be used as a guide in the design and execution of animal experimentation and pest control operations.
The public has little sympathy for the possum, which can cause widespread environmental damage, but does believe that control should be as painless as possible. Trapping and poisoning provide only short-term solutions to the possum problem and often involve methods that cause suffering. Intrusive experiments connected with these methods of control and published in the last 6 years are reviewed. Many of the experiments do not attain the welfare standards required by members of the public.
Possums also act as vectors for bovine tuberculosis. While this is not as important in the minds of the public as environmental degradation, as long as people wish to continue raising cattle, this disease needs to be controlled.
Immunocontraception is a humane means of controlling possums with wide public acceptance. The use of vaccines for cows and/or possums would also cause far less suffering than present eradication operations. Research into these methods does require some intrusive experimentation. This can be reduced if live animals are not used for secondary antibody harvesting, if adequate analgesia is provided, and if potential vaccines or contraceptives are tested under conditions that would be experienced in the field.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: School of Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) 2: School of Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand
Publication date: January 1, 2003