Ensuring the highest standards of animal welfare: our letter to The Veterinary Record


Dear sir

Adele Waters (‘What are your shared values?, October 21st 2017) reports that, at a recent British Veterinary Zoological Society conference, veterinary professionals talked of their concerns about declines in wildlife and the culling, trapping, poisoning or shooting of animals ‘unnecessarily’. 

Wildlife management is often complex and sometimes involves lethal control of wild animals. This can range from killing rats to prevent spoilage of food grown for human consumption to the control of foxes to protect the nests of threatened species like lapwing and curlew or to protect livestock and game.

In all cases of necessary lethal pest and predation control, the most appropriate, practical, efficient and humane methods should always be used.

Control strategies, based on good science (a thorough understanding of the problem and the best way to deal with it), practical experience and training alongside dialogue between the veterinary profession and professional wildlife managers and scientists will ensure the highest standards of animal welfare alongside flourishing wildlife. 

Dr Roger Draycott
Head of Advisory Services
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust



at 9:25 on 15/11/2017 by s.kibble

Having had the predator imbalance conversation with more people than I can now remember,the one thing that stands out is this:- Of all our legal target predators and pest for that matter ,be it rats ,mice,wasps,ants,house flies,foxes,stoats ,squirrels crows ,etc there isn't one category facing decline. So to quote the badger as a pest or predator and deal with it on a local landscape level will not bring about its distinction,in fact there numbers quoted found dead on the roads by the mammal society 12 or so years ago was half that of the fox number at 50 thousand per annum . In that period the sightings on roads was few ,now its common to see pretty much everywhere,perhaps we should be thankful for the motorcar in carrying out a degree of control for the benefit of balance . Will the indicators ever rule our judgements ?


at 13:11 on 14/11/2017 by ian mckenzie

I restrict myself to rabbit and mole control these days, as the restrictions on snaring in Scotland , I am licensed to snare, they however make it a very narrow and difficult window if you wish to satisfy all criteria, for snaring foxes for example, in anywhere other than remote areas. The visual damage done by badgers as I go around is very substantial. Lorry load heaps of soil cascade down railway and motorway banks. There are collapsed areas in fields due to undermining and some grass fields look like they have been rotavated. I am sure any ground nesting birds that they encounter will be taken, as well as hedgehogs, and bumble bee nests. I am not advocating anything drastic, I just think that farmers should be allowed a certain amount of control. There are a very small number of very vocal badger lovers, though not nature lovers, as they often leave the empty tins from the food used to bait them, I feel however, that most would support sensible humane even if limited control of numbers.

Predator Control

at 12:14 on 14/11/2017 by Nickerless

In a natural world where man is the "Top Dog" what Roger Draycott has said in his letter makes absolute sense. Man has simpified the food chains and is now going hell for leather to expand predator numbers. The larger they are the more they are supported by the unthinking. It is not the culling and trapping that is presently allowing overall numbers of the smaller animals insects and plants to decline It is the excessive numbers of relatively few species of predators. Many of these walk on 4 legs and range in size from rats, stoats and weasels (at the smaller end through cats otters and their like in the mid range though to foxes badgers and the larger raptors at the large end. Most of these animals need at least one meal a day. i.e. at least 3650 items per year per 10 predators etc. The best traps kill at most once per week and their average is far less than that. The countryside is at predator saturation point. There is a very serious need to look after the bottom end of the food chains.where many of the food sources should be found if they are given a chance to thrive. Freedom from excessive predation is fundamental to any species' survival.

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