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Clarify application of Animal Welfare act 2006 re vermin

Comment 15th March 2013

Give guidance to householders and landowners on suitable methods of destruction for vermin under the law

Why does this matter?

The widely reported example of a householder fined £1500 for killing a squirrel sets a seemingly inappropriate precedent (the householder reportedly drowned the squirrel as he felt this was the most humane approach available to him). The RSPCA suggested to the BBC ( ) that the squirrel should have been taken to the vet to be put down, which seems a ridiculously expensive and time consuming way to dispose of vermin.
Can we really expect all vermin to be taken to the vet to be put to sleep?
Will householders poisoining rats be the next to be fined? How about those gardeners killing snails and slugs in the garden? Should we turn the other cheek when bitten by a mosquito?

There needs to be some common sense here. No one wants to see needless suffering inflicted on animals, but there has to be reasonable scope for householders to destroy vermin cheaply and effectively, without some loony reporting them to the RSPCA so they can set up some of campaigning test case.
It does not seem to be in the public interest for the RSPCA to able to bring cases in respect of vermin, there should be a presumed defence in the case of vermin if specified means of destruction are used. The government spends vast sums trying to control the grey squirrel and other non native species in order to protect our native wildlife.
It seems ridiculous to penalise householders for assisting the government in this task on their own land.
I am in favour of protecting our native wildlife, but believe that the government efforts to eradicate specified non native species should be supported. There needs to be some “country” thinking applied to give a degree of realism and practicality to the application of the law.

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