Humane Control of Damage Causing Animals
The NSPCA is appreciative of the frustrations of farmers who are financially harmed by the damage caused by wildlife. We are as concerned about sheep and other farmed animals as we are about the welfare of the wild animals that live on ever decreasing areas, on and adjacent to farms. It has to be understood that wild animals are also struggling for survival and therefore prey upon abundant food sources, which may be the property of the farmer. Conflict with wild animals is an inherent risk of stock farming and an industry related challenge of producers in agriculture.
Finding ways to effectively control those animals that cause damage is an age old discussion topic, and the subject for discussion in the development of Norms and Standards for the management of damage causing animals in South Africa which falls under the auspices of National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act No. 10 of 2004.
In discussion and written input the NSPCA has urged the Department of Environmental Affairs to place emphasis on the banning of inhumane methods of control. These methods include gin traps, leg-hold traps, snares, spring traps, the use of poisons and the practise of denning (extracting and eliminating young from dens). The NSPCA is of the opinion that these methods are archaic and have no place in a progressive society. The removal of damage causing animals often leads to the creation of a vacuum thereby allowing other animals of the same species to compete for this territory; most often increasing the intensity of preying on domestic animals and increasing the problem.
An important factor when keeping livestock is the removal and correct disposal of carcasses to prevent attracting predators in the area. The location and time of calving and lambing must also be taken into consideration to deter unwanted attacks.
A number of non-lethal and ethically accepted options are available to reduce wildlife damage and are not only good for the welfare and conservation of wildlife but are often more effective than shooting or trapping so-called nuisance wildlife. These methods of control include fencing, kraaling, protection collars, livestock guarding animals, sirens, lights, various alarms and the use of herdsmen. This is an important issue and the pending Norms and Standards will have far reaching effects on the wildlife populations. Through its input during the consultative process, the Wildlife Protection Unit has endeavoured to ensure that the welfare of animals become an integral part of this legislation.
The Norms and Standards will be finalised by the Department of Environmental Affairs as soon as the process to amend the Threatened or Protected Species Regulations and species list have been completed.
Updated: 13 May 2014