The main concern for any one intending to trap a pest species is, “how they can do it humanely.” This is a great attitude, compassion and respect should be shown to all wildlife; especially those species that we aim to control. Quite often, we see the term humane, removed from lethal trapping practices.
Can a lethal trap be considered humane?
Without doubt, the most humane way of controlling pest species is with a goodnature trap. The current mindset throughout integrated pest management is to control rats and mice with rodenticide/toxins. This process involves the rodents visiting toxic bait stations over several days. The animal does not die instantly, suffering stress and disorientation. If the aim is always to dispatch the target species, we believe this should be conducted humanely, instantly and without causing fear.
Humane Rat Traps
The goodnature A24 is widely believed to be the most humane trap available for controlling rats & mice. When the target species interacts with the trap, it is dispatched instantly without any unnecessary suffering. Snap traps can be effective, however there are lots of cases where the rodent is caught by the leg, tail or across the back; not resulting in a humane end. This animal is then held in place, under stress until the person checks the trap; resulting in the animal needing to be dispatched by hand.
Here at goodnature traps UK, we believe it is our responsibility to put the welfare of wildlife first. Live traps, despite the name are often the most inhumane tool to use when controlling rodents. If the result is to dispatch the rodent that has been caught in a cage trap, it would seem senseless to hold the rodent against its will until that point. The stress, lack of food and water that occurs in these situations bears a heavy toll on the rodent.
When considering releasing the animal into the wild, it should be noted that this would see new dangers arrive for the rodent. Rats are neophobic, they fear new environments/objects. The animal would need to be released well over 500m away, otherwise it would return. This often results in starvation/thirst, stress or eaten by avian/mammal predators as the environment and dangers are unknown. If you wish to look at some relevant codes of practice, click here.
Trapping legislation is continually assessed and revised, ensuring Britain’s wildlife and pest species are managed responsibly and humanely. Government legislation can be found here.
When approaching a rodent control problem, some of the most easily accessible methods really shouldn’t be carried out by anyone but a qualified professional. Glue boards, even if they are checked every hour, can cause immense stress to the rat or mouse. Glue boards are rarely target specific if left in the open, blackbirds, robins and pets have all suffered when these have been used incorrectly. Should you wish to conduct a larger eradication programme, we always recommend professionals; such as rentokill and other accredited pest control companies.
Glue boards are used in enclosed areas such as warehouses, garages or houses. They are believed to be useful for intercepting mice on routes they take to get to food. These boards need to be checked regularly, ideally every hour; incurring great expense of time. The mouse, when stuck to the board, would need to be dispatched by hand.
This process is labour intensive, causes great stress to the mouse, resulting in fear when the mouse then has to be dispatched.
Fenn Traps need to be used in tunnels, suitable to minimise any interaction from non-target species. Due to the nature of the mechanism, these traps rarely kill instantly; rather resulting in the animal dying through constriction and suffocation.
Birds, hedgehogs and pets can be at risk, even if the trap is used correctly. The Fenn does not offer a guaranteed humane kill.
Snap traps have been used widely in pest control, when used by professionals in boxes, they offer a suitable form of control. Sadly, when used by an untrained individual, we often see the pest caught by a leg or other body part, not resulting in a humane dispatch.
Our environment, in its current state; does not need copious amounts of toxins littered throughout it. The rodent suffers from a slow and inhumane death when controlled by toxin. When the rodent does eventually die, it is often out of sight of the individual controlling them. This sees a great risk of secondary poisoning, whereby predators such as foxes, cats, badgers, hedgehogs and birds suffer from the toxins from consuming the rodent.
As mentioned previously, to trap animals alive, only to then dispatch them by hand later can be considered really quite inhumane. The risks posed to the pest far outweigh any perceived benefits from using them.
Humane Squirrel Traps
Grey squirrels have long caused extensive damage to woodland, songbirds and our native red squirrels. Controlling their population is proven to benefit native wildlife, flora and fauna. As with any trapping approach, humaneness is key. The A18 Grey Squirrel trap is humane, non-toxic and considerate to native species. With current reforms in legislation, it is now illegal to release a grey squirrel in to the environment; this is where live trapping can be most inhumane. A grey squirrel caught in a live trap could result in over 24 hours of exposure to predators such as foxes, cats, badgers and buzzards; as well as severe weather, flooding and stress. When a live trap is used for grey squirrels, the ultimate outcome will see the rodent dispatched by the responsible person. This creates an unnatural situation that forces interaction with humans, creating increased fear levels.
Our native red squirrel is being pushed to the brink of extinction, luckily there are many conservation groups working to prevent this from happening. The RSPB are doing their bit to protect our native species, have a look at how they help here.
As previously mentioned, much needed legislation reforms have come into force; we welcome these amendments for the preservation and protection of the UK habitats and ecosystems. Information on this can be found here.
Humane traps do exist, they are the ones that dispatch the target species quickly, without suffering and pose the least threat to non-target species. When any form of trapping is to be considered, we would ask you to look at what is to be achieved, and how best it can be implemented to reduce unnecessary suffering. As a nation, Britain is one of the most animal loving and empathetic. We are all guardians of Britain’s wildlife & countryside, simple changes in our actions can result in native species thriving.
To achieve this, we are often faced with problems that stem from the impact of non-native species; animals and plant life. Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed and American signal crayfish are removed with little asked of our ethics. Perhaps if we removed the objective speciesism bestowed on visually appealing invasive species, our collective conscience would feel more at ease when controlling them humanely.