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Pest Manag Sci. 2008 Dec;64(12):1205-11. doi: 10.1002/ps.1623.

The ethics of rodent control.

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Animal Sciences Group, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Lelystad, The Netherlands.


Because western societies generally see animals as objects of moral concern, demands have been made on the way they are treated, e.g. during animal experimentation. In the case of rodent pests, however, inhumane control methods are often applied. This inconsistency in the human-animal relationship requires clarification. This paper analyses the criteria that must be met when judging the use of animals during experiments, and investigates whether these can be applied in rodent control. This is important, because, until now, animal welfare has been less of an issue in pest control: effectiveness, hygiene and cost efficiency have been leading principles. Two options are available to solve the inconsistency: the first is to abandon the criteria used in animal experimentation; the second is to apply these criteria to both animal experimentation and rodent control. This latter option implies that rodent control methods should not lead to intense pain or discomfort, and any discomfort should have a short duration and should allow escaped rodents to lead a natural life. Adherence to this option will, however, require a shift in the design of rodent control methods: effectiveness will no longer be the leading principle. It will have to share its position with animal welfare and humaneness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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