Every year hundreds of thousands of feral pigs, feral cats, wild dogs, rabbits, foxes and rodents are shot, poisoned, trapped or otherwise killed. Many of the methods used are far from humane.
These animals are no different from their domestic counterparts, such as pet dogs or cats, in terms of their capacity to suffer and experience pain and fear.
Many introduced and some native animals are classed as 'pests,' because they have a negative impact on the environment or agricultural production. In certain circumstances it is necessary to control populations of these animals in order to reduce or remove their adverse impact.
In 2008 there was a tremendous step forward when the RSPCA worked with government and industry to develop Australia's first model to assess the humaneness of pest control methods. Animal welfare is now a regular consideration in the development of any pest control strategy.
Unfortunately, in recent times there has been confusion between recreational hunting and pest animal management. Recreational hunting is not an effective form of pest management. Pest animal management programs are done with the aim of reducing the negative impacts on agricultural production and natural resource systems, using the most humane, target specific, cost effective and efficacious techniques available. In contrast, most hunting is primarily done as a desire to kill pest or game animals as a recreational activity.
“In terms of the number of animals affected, vertebrate pest control is one of the biggest animal welfare problems we have in this country.”