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Traps for killing stoats ( Mustela erminea ): improving welfare performance

By B. Warburton, N. Poutu, D. Peters, P. Waddington

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Fenn traps are widely used in New Zealand for control of small predators. Introduced stoats (Mustela erminea) pose a significant risk to many indigenous New Zealand bird species, and the Department of Conservation (DOC) has used Fenn traps to reduce their numbers over the last 20-30 years. Changes to New Zealand animal welfare legislation in 1999 focused attention on whether this trap killed quickly and consistently and, therefore, pen tests were carried out to assess their killing performance. A guideline for testing traps was developed for the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, and to meet the guidelines kill traps must render all ten test animals irreversibly unconscious within three minutes. Testing is stopped as soon as three animals fail the criterion. New Mk IV and MkVI and used MkVI Fenn traps were tested. With the exception of one stoat captured in a new MkVI trap, all stoats remained conscious until euthanased at 5 minutes, and consequently only three stoats were used in each test. In response to these results, a new series of traps was developed (DOC 150, 200, and 250). These killed all 10 test animals, with all rendered irreversibly unconscious within 3 minutes and most unconscious in less than 20 seconds. The new DOC traps have also been tested for their efficacy at killing other small mammals including rats, ferrets, and hedgehogs, which are often captured as non-target species. As these new traps replace Fenn traps in Department of Conservation stoat control operations, significant improvements in the welfare of trapped stoats should result.

Date 2008
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 17
Issue 2
Pages 111-116
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Landcare Research, PO Box 40, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal ecology
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Australasia
  5. Biological control
  6. Biological resources
  7. Commonwealth of Nations
  8. Conservation
  9. Control
  10. Developed countries
  11. Ferrets
  12. Fur-bearing animals
  13. Guidelines
  14. Hedgehogs
  15. Insectivores
  16. Laws and regulations
  17. Legislation
  18. Mammals
  19. mink
  20. New Zealand
  21. Oceania
  22. OECD countries
  23. peer-reviewed
  24. pest control
  25. Plants
  26. predators
  27. Rats
  28. recommendations
  29. Rodents
  30. standards
  31. trapping
  1. peer-reviewed