The HSUS and Avitrol®
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) on its web site http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/facts/avitrol.html (viewed Nov 10, 2013) condemns the frightening device as cruel to birds. In fact, the precise words used by author, Maggie Brasted, Wildlife Policy Associate for the HSUS, “..the cruel death it inflicts on target birds and other animals.”
To accuse Avitrol® of causing a cruel death to birds is a pretty harsh criticism. So what evidence does the HSUS provide to support its accusation? Well, actually, Ms. Brasted provides none. So what could Ms. Brasted mean by “cruel death”. In my opinion, she probably means that the mere fact that the birds die is cruel. So contrary to the normal way people understand cruel as needless and gratuitous suffering, Ms. Brasted, if my assessment is correct, thinks that the death of a pest bird is by definition cruel.
My point ultimately is, “Force animal protectionists and animal rights protest industry activists to define their terms.” Don’t let them simply spout off their accusations without critical attention to the terms they use. I would suggest that forcing them to define terms will reveal the level of their extremism as well as contradictions within their views. Reporters should also compel the HSUS to answer the research report by H.C. Rowsell, J. Ritcey, and F. Cox. 1979. Assessment of Humaneness of Vertebrate Pesticides. University of Ottawa, Presented at the 1979 CALAS Convention, University of Guelph, June 25-28 that stated that birds treated with Avitrol® do not feel pain and is humane.
I find it ironic that an activist organization with the word humane in its name wouldn’t provide a detailed response to the claims of Rowsell et al. regarding the humanness of Avitrol®. I would welcome the HSUS’s response but given their history of ignoring my publications, I won’t hold my breath.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest books are the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition and The Practical Guide to the Control of Feral Cats. He can be contacted at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.
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