AAWS

Animal Welfare

It is important that methods to control or manage pest animals are humane and target specific. Several policies have been developed in recent years to address the issue of humane pest animal control.

There is an expectation that animal suffering associated with pest animal management be minimised. The  Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) was developed to ensure the humane treatment of all animals in Australia and the relative humaneness of a range of pest animal control methods has been assessed.

Model Codes of Practice (CoPs) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been developed for a range of pest animal species as guidance to jurisdictions and their management of animal welfare aspects of pest animal control. State and territory governments have the legislative responsibility for animal welfare and may draw on these model codes of practice and standard operating procedures in developing their legislative requirements.

The SOPs are guiding documents only and can be modified by jurisdictions to suit their particular needs and legislation. The CoPs have been endorsed by the National Biosecurity Committee and remain as guiding documents.

CoPs encompass all aspects of controlling a pest animal species. A CoP for a pest animal species provides general information on best practice management, control strategies, species biology and impact, and the humaneness of current control methods.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) provide a uniform approach to the management of pest animals. SOPs detail the procedures involved for each control technique as applied to each of the major pest animal species. SOPs specifically address the animal welfare aspects of each technique.

This section provides information on humaneness assessments for different pest control methods, as well as the CoPs and SOPs. Links to the relevant documents for each species are also available on the relevant species pages.


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The attitude of individuals and groups to pests can influence the support for or objection to managing pests. For example, what might be a pest to one group might be variously regarded as an animal of cultural value, a food resource, a valued native animal, a commercial resource, an endemic and exotic disease hazard or a recreational hunting resource. Animal welfare groups aim to protect all animals from cruelty and improper exploitation, and to encourage considerate treatment of animals. While they accept that pest animals may need to be controlled under some circumstances, in general they oppose control practices that cause animals unnecessary pain or suffering.

Last updated: June 11, 2015