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Review

Updating the AIHTS Trapping Standards to Improve Animal Welfare and Capture Efficiency and Selectivity

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Alpha Wildlife Research & Management Ltd., 229 Lilac Terrace, Sherwood Park, AB T8H 1W3, Canada
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RGL Recovery Wildlife Health & Veterinary Services, 415 Mount Allison Crescent, Saskatoon, SK S7H 4A6, Canada
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Department of Biology and Natural Resources, Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD 21532, USA
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Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, University of Oxford, Tubney House, Abingdon Road, Tubney, Abingdon OX13 5QL, UK
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1262; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081262
Received: 2 July 2020 / Revised: 20 July 2020 / Accepted: 23 July 2020 / Published: 24 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mammal Trapping, Wildlife Conservation, and Animal Welfare)
The Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) has been the benchmark for humane restraining and killing traps used for the capture of a wide range of mammalian species for more than 20 years. Nonetheless, over this time, wildlife biologists, managers, and conservation groups have voiced a growing list of concerns about the ineffectiveness of AIHTS standards and test procedures in ensuring animal welfare. In this review, we first summarize and compare the AIHTS standards with two other contemporary standards, those developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in the late 90s and a Canadian trap research and development program in operation from 1985–1993. We then evaluate the AIHTS standards against seven hypotheses that reflect many of the concerns raised by the scientific community. Our evaluation shows conclusively that the AIHTS standards do not reflect state-of-the-art trapping technology and that continued maintenance of these outdated standards perpetuates animal pain and suffering. Lastly, we propose a series of measures to fund trap testing and implement new standards to improve animal welfare, and trap efficiency and selectivity.
In 1999, after pressure from the European Union, an Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) that would result in the banning of the steel-jawed leghold traps in the European Community, Canada, and Russia was signed. The United States implemented these standards through an Agreed Minute with the European Community. Over the last two decades, scientists have criticized the AIHTS for (1) omitting species that are commonly trapped; (2) threshold levels of trap acceptance that are not representative of state-of-the-art trap technology; (3) excluding popular traps which are commonly used by trappers although they are known to cause prolonged pain and stress to captured animals; (4) inadequate coverage of capture efficiency and species selectivity (i.e., number of captures of target and non-target species) performance. Concerns about the ability of standards and test procedures to ensure animal welfare, and about the implementation of standards, have also been voiced by wildlife biologists, managers, and conservation groups. In this review, we present a synopsis of current trapping standards and test procedures, and we compare the standards to a then contemporary 1985–1993 Canadian trap research and development program. On the basis of the above-noted concerns about AIHTS, and our experience as wildlife professionals involved in the capture of mammals, we formulated the following hypotheses: (1) the list of mammal species included in the AIHTS is incomplete; (2) the AIHTS have relatively low animal welfare performance thresholds of killing trap acceptance and do not reflect state-of-the-art trapping technology; (3) the AIHTS animal welfare indicators and injuries for restraining traps are insufficient; (4) the AIHTS testing procedures are neither thorough nor transparent; (5) the AIHTS protocols for the use of certified traps are inadequate; (6) the AIHTS procedures for the handling and dispatching of animals are nonexistent; (7) the AIHTS criteria to assess trap capture efficiency and species selectivity are inappropriate. We conclude that the AIHTS do not reflect state-of-the-art trapping technology, and assessment protocols need to be updated to include trap components and sets, animal handling and dispatching, and trap visit intervals. The list of traps and species included in the standards should be updated. Finally, the concepts of capture efficiency and trap selectivity should be developed and included in the standards. Based on our review, it is clear that mammal trapping standards need to be revisited to implement state-of-the-art trapping technology and improve capture efficiency and species selectivity. We believe that a committee of international professionals consisting of wildlife biologists and veterinarians with extensive experience in the capture of mammals and animal welfare could produce new standards within 1–2 years. We propose a series of measures to fund trap testing and implement new standards. View Full-Text
Keywords: AIHTS; animal welfare; capture efficiency; capture selectivity; humaneness; international trapping standards; International Organization for Standardization (ISO); mammals; trapping; wildlife management AIHTS; animal welfare; capture efficiency; capture selectivity; humaneness; international trapping standards; International Organization for Standardization (ISO); mammals; trapping; wildlife management
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MDPI and ACS Style

Proulx, G.; Cattet, M.; Serfass, T.L.; Baker, S.E. Updating the AIHTS Trapping Standards to Improve Animal Welfare and Capture Efficiency and Selectivity. Animals 2020, 10, 1262. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081262

AMA Style

Proulx G, Cattet M, Serfass TL, Baker SE. Updating the AIHTS Trapping Standards to Improve Animal Welfare and Capture Efficiency and Selectivity. Animals. 2020; 10(8):1262. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081262

Chicago/Turabian Style

Proulx, Gilbert, Marc Cattet, Thomas L. Serfass, and Sandra E. Baker. 2020. "Updating the AIHTS Trapping Standards to Improve Animal Welfare and Capture Efficiency and Selectivity" Animals 10, no. 8: 1262. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081262

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