The WAWC has called for a thorough review of trapping regulations in the UK in its response to the DEFRA consultation on implementation of the Agreement on Humane trapping standards (AIHTS).

The Agreement covers trapping of animals for fur, skin or meat, conservation, pest control and general wildlife management purposes. All traps designed to kill or restrain are covered by the AIHTS, including cage traps, and snares. The AIHTS covers a range of species commonly trapped outside the UK for commercial purposes, five of which occur in the wild in the UK:
• European Badger, Meles meles
• European Beaver, Castor fiber
• European Otter, Lutra lutra
• Pine Marten, Martes martes
• Stoat, Mustela erminea

Of these, only the stoat is regularly and widely trapped in the UK and it is the only species for which lethal traps are commonly used.

In its response, the WAWC has expressed a number of concerns about the proposals, including potential implied UK support for the fur trade. In addition, the consultation fails to question the need for routine killing of predatory wild animals in the name of pest control or wildlife management. The WAWC believes that a thorough review of the necessity, means and welfare impacts of trapping and killing wild animals in the UK, and an overhaul of the whole trapping regulation system in the UK, are long overdue.

On ethical and scientific grounds, the WAWC believes that the routine killing of any predatory animal cannot be justified unless:
• research demonstrates that killing is necessary,
• killing is effective at resolving the problem identified,
• killing causes the least welfare harm possible, and
• lethal control is sustainable

Where such evidence is available, and a robust case is made (including monitoring for the effects on population and welfare), in order to be humane any killing method must cause rapid, irreversible loss of consciousness in the target animal. The WAWC is concerned that these criteria have not been addressed in the consultation.

The proposals for implementation of the AIHTS may bring some animal welfare benefits for trapped stoats, but the WAWC believes a thorough review of the necessity, means and welfare impacts of trapping and killing wild animals in the UK, and an overhaul of the whole trapping regulation system in the UK, are long overdue.

See the full response in the Resources section.