Animal welfare rules to cover all activities

ALI TOCKER
Last updated 05:00 27/09/2012

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Hunting and fishing have not escaped scrutiny in a planned crackdown on bad treatment of animals.

People who carry out extreme or unacceptable acts towards animals while hunting, fishing or controlling pests may be charged with ill-treatment under new animal welfare rules proposed by the Government.

The Primary Industries Ministry said that under the Animal Welfare Act hunting and fishing were not illegal and the Government did not propose to change that.

"However, the Government is proposing to clarify in the act that extreme conduct that goes beyond acceptable practice when hunting, fishing or controlling pests could be subject to a charge of ill-treatment," the ministry's deputy director-general, Paul Stocks, said.

Other proposed changes include making it an offence to “deliberately drown a land animal”, and requiring reporting of the number of animals killed for research, testing or teaching.

The changes include a new over-arching national animal welfare strategy - New Zealand's first.

Stocks said the strategy would ensure better care of animals and protect the country's international trade reputation.

“Animal welfare is too important to get it wrong - New Zealanders care about animals and even isolated cases of poor animal welfare could damage our reputation.

“Many of the features of our animal welfare system have never been written down; the strategy describes the values and strengths of our animal welfare system as well as some areas for improvement.”

In other changes, the ministry proposes making animal welfare rules easier to enforce.

New Zealand currently has 15 codes of welfare containing minimum standards for various animal species including cattle, sheep, deer, dogs and “companion cats”, and activities involving animals such as rodeos, circuses and “painful husbandry procedures”.

The Government proposes replacing the codes, and existing rules for live animal exports, with a mix of enforceable standards set in regulations, and guidelines promoting good practice.

The proposed changes were about making the rules clearer and "giving them teeth", Stocks said.

“Many industry and non-industry stakeholders have expressed concern that there is no direct penalty for breaching minimum standards, and that this discourages people from meeting the standards.

"The new regulations will be backed by a range of penalties, including instant fines in some cases.” The maximum infringement fees for animal welfare offences would increase from $200 to $1000.

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The new regulations would have little direct impact on most New Zealanders because they were already meeting the needs of their animals, Stocks said.

Public submissions on the proposals opened on August 13.

- Waikato Times

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