Animal welfare and pest control: meeting both conservation and animal welfare goals
Vertebrate pest control is an area where conservation and animal welfare goals can be in direct conflict. Is it possible to meet goals in both areas in one pest control operation? Vertebrate pests, including unwanted or overabundant wildlife, are controlled for many reasons related to protecting the health, safety and comfort of humans, animals and the environment. Pests are as capable of suffering as their domesticated counterparts, and pest control operations have an impact on their welfare, as shown by an increasing amount of research. This impact has often been neglected or ignored. Taking steps to minimise unnecessary and unintentional negative impacts on animal welfare, while working towards an ideal of zero suffering, offers a way forward. This can be done by ensuring that only control tools with an acceptable impact on animal welfare are used and that research is conducted to improve current tools and to find more acceptable tools. It is also important to ensure that intervention and killing are really necessary, and to use the tools with the most acceptable animal welfare impact in the way that minimises unwanted impacts. By building these steps into the planning and operation of pest control programmes conducted in the name of conservation, we can meet conservation and animal welfare goals.
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