Euthanasia (which means Good Death) is technically defined as a technique that causes the death of an animal while it is unconscious. For instance, drowning would not be euthanasia because the animal would be aware of its dying. But who decides what methods meet the standard? One commonly appealed to group is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)which has created guidelines that have been revised over the years. The AVMA guidelines is also a favorite of animal rights groups.
At this point you may wonder how all this impacts wildlife control. The answer is that animal rights groups have been trying to use cruelty laws written for domestic animals to apply to the capture and control of wildlife. Since some states have laws/regulations stating that wildlife control operators kill wildlife in a humane way, animal rights groups have the potential to bring lawsuits against wildlife control operators for using euthanizing techniques not allowed by the AVMA. Thankfully, animal rights groups have been generally unsuccessful in getting the legal system to apply domestic animal laws on wildlife, but if cultural trends continue, this situation will likely change.
Recently, the National Wildlife Control Operators Association was successful in publishing the results of a review panel on euthanasia techniques suitable for wildlife control operators. While the article lacks the depth of the AVMA panel reviews, this publication is a first step in creating guidelines from an industry perspective.
You can read this article entitled “Euthanasia methods in field settings for wildlife damage management” by Timothy J. Julien, Stephen M. Vantassel, Scott R. Groepper, and Scott E. Hygnstrom for yourself.
Stephen M. Vantassel was a professional wildlife control operator and now provides wildlife control information to the public at the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management. He is also the author of