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23 August 2021

Opinion: We should be animal welfare activists


We need to fully engage with this process of heightened animal welfare awareness; it’s the best strategy to protect our industry, toolbox, and the direct threats to public health that unwanted pests can pose. Chris Cagienard explains...


Are we missing the mark?

Most of us are animal lovers who’ll take every approach possible to remove the need for lethal control and, in particular, the use of direct physical control measures.

I take no joy from having to trap or humanely dispatch any animal. If it needs to be done, I’m willing to be the one to do it because I want it done well. I’m sure you feel the same.

However, we’re not telling the story at all well. We’re failing to promote the pest professional as an animal lover, focusing instead on conservation, education and prevention.

In the past, when confronted with examples of glue board misuse, we’ve repeated the mantra “but we need glue boards” - which we absolutely do.

Maybe we should instead be proclaiming, “yes, that’s horrific; let’s take this on together because here is what professional use looks like and the two are not the same.”

Now we find ourselves lumped in with the amateur users and the unprofessional cowboys of the industry when it comes to glue board use.

What will come next?

From my involvement in some academic research, I know there are parties out there with an eye on spring traps, live traps and snap traps – and of course, traditional rodenticides.

With regulated spring traps and unregulated snap traps, we might not always consider the animal welfare impact. After all, we set the trap and return to find the animal dead most of the time.

We can easily forget that there was a time between when the animal encountered your trap and when it died.

  • Are we thinking about this time and whether it was as humane as it could have been?
  • Are we thinking about trap effectiveness and trap placement?
  • Are we thinking about the competency of humane dispatch when live trapping or in the event of a foul catch?
  • Are we thinking about minimising foul catches?

Building a culture of animal welfare

We need to become animal welfare activists. Otherwise, we risk giving up control of the discussion to people who may be very well-intentioned but don’t have the insights of a pest professional or consider the protection of public health.

As part of my role in the BPCA and as a member, I’ve been calling for the development of online and practical in-person training that’ll ensure confidence and competence in delivering humane dispatch via blunt force trauma. This is a grey area that is mainly unspoken about.

We discuss animal welfare considerations in our service meetings and training to support our young trainees to confidence and competency.

Chris Cagienard

This could be the most worthwhile contribution of my time at the BPCA and have a significant impact on improving animal welfare.

We discuss animal welfare considerations in our service meetings and training to support our young trainees to confidence and competency.

From experience, I can say it’s had a marked impact on our people’s happiness and mental health.

Over to you

What are you doing well that you could share with members to help positively impact animal welfare? We need to hear from you.

What are you unsure about? Where do you need help to do what we have to do as well as possible? Reach out for help. Let’s talk about animal welfare.

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