Dilemmas in the Management of Liminal Rodents—Attitudes of Dutch Pest Controllers
Centre for Sustainable Animal Stewardship (CenSAS), Department Population Health Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 2, 3584 CM Utrecht, The Netherlands
Section Laboratory Animal Science/3Rs-Centre, Unit Animals in Science and Society, Department Population Health Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 2, 3584 CM Utrecht, The Netherlands
Brain Centre Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Universiteitsweg 100, 3584 CG Utrecht, The Netherlands
Ethics Institute, Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University, Janskerkhof 13, 3512 BL Utrecht, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 August 2020
Revised: 4 September 2020
Accepted: 7 September 2020
Published: 9 September 2020
Most people think the welfare of non-human animals matters. However, when it comes to rats and mice labeled as ‘pests’, welfare generally appears less important. Together with stakeholders in the field of pest management, we are working to develop a framework for less harmful rodent control that can be used by pest controllers. An online survey was carried out in order to find out to what extent Dutch pest controllers take the welfare of rats and mice into account as part of their profession. Our findings show that respondents pay attention to animal welfare and believe that some methods used cause severe animal suffering. Also, they think there are situations in which more attention for preventive methods (e.g., cleaning, removing food sources, or closing holes in a building) benefits both humans and pest animals. They indicate, however, that it is sometimes hard to include animal welfare in their work. An important reason for this is that clients do not always want to invest sufficient money in prevention. The findings of this study are useful for further conversations with pest controllers and their clients on how to safeguard animal welfare. Furthermore, they are relevant to the framework we are developing.