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A veterinary and behavioral analysis of dolphin killing methods currently used in the "drive hunt" in Taiji, Japan

By A. Butterworth, P. Brakes, C. S. Vail, D. Reiss

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Annually in Japanese waters, small cetaceans are killed in "drive hunts" with quotas set by the government of Japan. The Taiji Fishing Cooperative in Japan has published the details of a new killing method that involves cutting (transecting) the spinal cord and purports to reduce time to death. The method involves the repeated insertion of a metal rod followed by the plugging of the wound to prevent blood loss into the water. To date, a paucity of data exists regarding these methods utilized in the drive hunts. Our veterinary and behavioral analysis of video documentation of this method indicates that it does not immediately lead to death and that the time to death data provided in the description of the method, based on termination of breathing and movement, is not supported by the available video data. The method employed causes damage to the vertebral blood vessels and the vascular rete from insertion of the rod that will lead to significant hemorrhage, but this alone would not produce a rapid death in a large mammal of this type. The method induces paraplegia (paralysis of the body) and death through trauma and gradual blood loss. This killing method does not conform to the recognized requirement for "immediate insensibility" and would not be tolerated or permitted in any regulated slaughterhouse process in the developed world.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 16
Issue 2
Pages 184-204
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2013.768925
Language English
Author Address Clinical Veterinary School, University of Bristol Veterinary School, Langford,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Analysis
  2. Animal injuries
  3. Animal physiology
  4. Animals
  5. Animal slaughter
  6. Animal welfare
  7. APEC countries
  8. Asia
  9. Blood
  10. Developed countries
  11. Diseases and injuries of animals
  12. Documentation
  13. Hemorrhage
  14. Japan
  15. Mammals
  16. Marine mammals
  17. OECD countries
  18. paralysis
  19. peer-reviewed
  20. quotas
  21. slaughter
  22. slaughterhouses
  23. spinal cord
  24. spine
  25. Techniques
  26. trauma
  27. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed