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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Rating of killing traps against humane trapping standards using computer simulations


The Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) which applies to wildlife management, vertebrate pest control, and trapping for fur, skin, or meat for 19 listed species requires that a trapping method render at least 80% of a minimum of 12 target animals irreversibly insensible within a species-specific time limit. However, the Agreement also allows for the use of other scientifically proven methods as a substitute for testing on live animals. For the past five years, we have been developing computer models and simulation systems to determine whether killing traps meet humane trapping standards. The models were designed to classify the time-to-loss-of-sensibility of furbearing species based on mechanical characteristics of traps and strike location(s). Models were based on data collected from trap testing on marten (Martes americana), fisher (Martes pennanti), and raccoon (Procyon lotor). Models were tested against 15 years of live trap testing data from the Fur Institute of Canada. The models proved to be a valid alternative to trap testing on live animals due to their high levels of safe prediction accuracy (88%, 86% , and 92% for marten, fisher, and raccoon, respectively). If applied to trap testing, these models would dramatically reduce the cost and the need for trap testing on live animals.

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