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Article

Dilemmas in the Management of Liminal Rodents—Attitudes of Dutch Pest Controllers

1
Centre for Sustainable Animal Stewardship (CenSAS), Department Population Health Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 2, 3584 CM Utrecht, The Netherlands
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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
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Brain Centre Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Universiteitsweg 100, 3584 CG Utrecht, The Netherlands
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Ethics Institute, Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University, Janskerkhof 13, 3512 BL Utrecht, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1614; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091614
Received: 17 August 2020 / Revised: 4 September 2020 / Accepted: 7 September 2020 / Published: 9 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Collection Human-Wildlife Conflict and Interaction)
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.
When non-human animals are labeled as ‘pests’, their moral status and welfare seem relatively unimportant. In a multi-stakeholder project, we develop an assessment frame for a more responsible rodent management that includes animal welfare. An online survey among 129 Dutch pest controllers was carried out in order to find out more about pest controllers’ attitudes about animal welfare. Respondents indicate to consider animal welfare in their job. They see differences in the welfare impact of different rodent control methods. A dilemma may occur when methods with a high impact, such as rodenticides, are ofttimes used in practice. Respondents also indicate that in different real-life scenarios (the hospital kitchen vs. the private backyard), a different weight may be attributed to the importance of animal welfare. Almost half of the respondents encounter difficulties when weighing animals against human interests. The problems are mainly related to clients who are not willing to invest sufficient money in preventive methods, where respondents do believe in. Some differences were found between respondents depending on membership of a professional association for pest controllers. The results of this study are relevant input for focus groups with pest controllers and their clients and for the development of the aforementioned assessment frame. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal ethics; animal welfare; commensal rodents; liminal rodents; pest control; rodent control; rodent management animal ethics; animal welfare; commensal rodents; liminal rodents; pest control; rodent control; rodent management
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MDPI and ACS Style

van Gerwen, M.A.A.M.; Nieuwland, J.; van Lith, H.A.; Meijboom, F.L.B. Dilemmas in the Management of Liminal Rodents—Attitudes of Dutch Pest Controllers. Animals 2020, 10, 1614. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091614

AMA Style

van Gerwen MAAM, Nieuwland J, van Lith HA, Meijboom FLB. Dilemmas in the Management of Liminal Rodents—Attitudes of Dutch Pest Controllers. Animals. 2020; 10(9):1614. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091614

Chicago/Turabian Style

van Gerwen, Maite A.A.M.; Nieuwland, Joachim; van Lith, Hein A.; Meijboom, Franck L.B. 2020. "Dilemmas in the Management of Liminal Rodents—Attitudes of Dutch Pest Controllers" Animals 10, no. 9: 1614. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091614

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