Pioneering conference on animal welfare in Invasive Alien Species management
22 July 2022
We are closing the bridge between animal welfare and conservation. The “Conference on the management of vertebrate Invasive Alien Species (IAS) of Union concern – incorporating animal welfare” was held on 12 July 2022 in Brussels and gathered 150 experts in wildlife management from across Europe to discuss how to improve animal welfare in IAS management.
The Conference is the final milestone of a project assessing the animal welfare implications of management methods for IAS on the Union list. The manual detailing the assessment will be published by the end of the year. Based on these outcomes, wildlife management practitioners will be able to select the most humane methods, while also taking into consideration the cost-benefit analysis to maximise efficiency. This Pilot Project is funded by the European Commission and implemented by a consortium of academics, conservation and animal welfare organisations, including Eurogroup for Animals.
The participants to the Conference represented a wide range of wildlife management stakeholders including field practitioners, academia, civil society and competent authorities. They could discover the content of the manual presented by the consortium, learn from case studies across Europe on the management of various species and exchange on the gaps, best practices and ways forward for the management of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish species of the Union list.
During the Conference, Eurogroup for Animals and its members highlighted the necessity to raise awareness and find solutions to
Better prevent the introduction of IAS in Europe,
Develop innovative methods that minimise animal suffering when management is needed to protect biodiversity.
In this context, it is essential to explore the possibilities of fertility control and similar non-lethal management methods for the species of the Union list. Such solutions could enable a better implementation of the IAS regulation. The latter indeed provides the use of methods that do not cause avoidable pain, distress or suffering.
Based on the research conducted and the outcomes of this productive Conference, Eurogroup for Animals calls on the EU to build on this momentum, conducting further research needed to develop humane management methods for the IAS of the Union list.Additionally, following this important project, Eurogroup for Animals calls for the inclusion of welfare in management to be legally binding, as well as the publication of a list of prohibited management methods which fail to meet high welfare standards.
Animal organisations put spotlight on deaths of 3 dolphins in 1 month at Maltese dolphinarium
26 July 2022
Animal Liberation Malta (ALM) has revealed that that between August and September of 2021 three female dolphins died at the Mediterraneo Marine Park at Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, Malta.
The news was never made public nor was it registered in the non-profit cetacean register Ceta-Base, as is common practice in other international wildlife parks.
Two of the female dolphins that died, named Onda and Mar, were believed to be around 20 and 25 years old respectively, had been caught in the wild in Cuba and kept at Mediterraneo since 2000, the group said.
The third dolphin, Melita, was just seven years old and was born in the park in 2014. She never swam in the open sea.
ALM also called upon authorities to investigate why Mediterraneo is allowed to operate under a zoo licence, when their dolphin shows acted as a “permanent aquatic circus”. The law, they said, defined circuses as places where animals are introduced for the purpose of performance and shows, which Mediterraneo’s dolphin shows offer as a form of entertainment.
Circuses with animal performers have been banned in Malta since 2014.
ALM called on the government as well as the park owners to shut down Mediterraneo and transform it into a rehabilitation center for aquatic animals.
“The location of the park is perfect as it is very close to the coastal shores and Malta would have the opportunity and be the pioneer of not only dolphin care but also of other marine creatures. The remaining dolphins should have the opportunity to be rehoused in sea pens, to live a natural life and end performing displays to the public.”
The Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina has opened an inquiry to understand how the investigation was conducted by the government veterinary department.
I was very concerned when first advised of the disappearance of the 3 dolphins from Mediterraneo. A member of the public was told by the park that the dolphins had been moved to a facility in Spain, and contacted us to investigate further on the export. Having contacted authorities in both Spain and Malta, we were advised that the dolphins had not gone to another park but had, in fact, died at Mediterraneo. We continue to work alongside Maltese authorities to discover why the park were not been forthcoming with this information and an investigation is now vital to learn how these animals died, and the true situation at the facility.
Margaux Dodds, Director of UK based NGO Marine Connection
Roadside checks document transport of live animals in temperatures over 36°C without water
25 July 2022
Roadside checks by Essere Animali investigators document trucks parked in the sun with pigs inside, gasping, visibly out of breath. These are dramatic scenes, but they do not constitute any violation of law, thanks to “an absolutely inadequate EU regulatory system in terms of concretely protecting animals” the organisation states.
Bologna, 21 June 2022 – In these days of extreme heat, the organisation Essere Animali carried out monitoring activities along the A1 motorway, between Lodi and Bologna, to document the conditions of the animals transported for food production.
The organisation’s investigators monitored trucks used for the transport of live animals, intercepting them en route and following them until they arrived at the slaughterhouse. The temperatures were detected through the use of a heat gun, with which it was possible to ascertain the exact temperature inside the compartment of the truck in which the animals were transported.
We have documented trucks that travelled with external temperatures of 36°-38°C and that, upon arrival at the slaughterhouse, stopped for 30 minutes in the sun before unloading the animals. In these cases, it was possible to verify that the pigs were forced to remain in the truck with internal temperatures above 40°C. Unfortunately, the current regulations do not provide for temperature limits inside or outside the vehicle for journeys with a duration equal to or less than 8 hours, merely requiring that the means of transport should be able to protect animals from ‘extreme temperatures’, and prohibiting them from being transported in conditions that expose them to ‘unnecessary injury or suffering’. The lack of objective parameters of reference therefore creates a vast unregulated grey area, which does not facilitate appropriate intervention when the welfare of the animals is not respected.
President of Essere Animali, Simone Montuschi
Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport does not place any limit on journeys that last up to 8 hours (or 12 hours if an exemption is granted) with regards to either the temperature inside or outside the vehicle, or the possibility of accessing water; provisions are only in place for long journeys of more than 8-12 hours. In this case, it is specified that the ventilation systems on the means of transport must be designed, constructed, and maintained in such a way that, at any moment in the journey, regardless of whether the means of transport is stationary or in transit, they can maintain a temperature between 5°C and 30°C inside the vehicle, with a tolerance range of +/- 5°C depending on the external temperature.
In a note issued at the beginning of June addressed to the Direction of the Traffic Police and to the trade associations of lorry drivers and veterinarians, the Ministry of Health requires that the transport of live animals must not be carried out with atmospheric temperatures above 30 degrees at the start of or during the journey. However, the reality documented by the investigators of Essere Animali shows that these provisions are not effective in practice, and there is an urgent need for greater legislative protection during transport operations.
If we allow transport for several hours when the outside temperature touches or exceeds 30°C, the pigs inside the trucks, due to crowding and the body heat produced, will be forced to withstand temperatures around 40°C. But the scientific literature indicates that for adult pigs, the thermoneutral zone – that is the range of temperatures within which the animal is able to maintain its normal body temperature – is approximately between 8°C and 25°C. The animals transported in these days of high temperatures were therefore subjected to stress and suffering.
Simone Montuschi adds.
Essere Animali believes that new European laws are needed as soon as possible to better protect animals, as the current ones are too generic, and do not take into account various species-specific requirements and with serious shortcomings, such as the lack of regulatory protection for animals during trips lasting up to 8 hours.
Through the Farm to Fork strategy, the European Commission has set itself the goal of carrying out a complete review of the legislation on animal welfare, including transport and slaughter of animals raised for food, by autumn 2023.
Through the No Animal Left Behind campaign, coordinated by Eurogroup for Animals and supported by dozens of NGOs from all over Europe, Essere Animali calls for the transport of live animals over long distances (longer than 8 hours) to be prohibited. Furthermore, they request the introduction of a range of acceptable external temperatures between 5°C and 25°C, outside of which any transport is prohibited. Finally, fundamental parameters must be clearly defined, such as species-specific and categories-specific conditions for the suitability for transporting animals, as well as the availability of space and method for water administration.
Allowing the transport of live animals when the measured external temperature is 30°C or more, and not providing access to water, is equivalent to not guaranteeing the welfare of the animals. It is clear that the current European laws for the protection of animals are incomplete and inadequate, so we ask the European Union and the Italian government to align the new legislative proposal with current scientific and ethological knowledge.
Simone Montuschi concludes.
The transport conditions documented by Essere Animali are disturbing, and bring to light a reality completely ignored in Italy. A country which, not by chance, was not among the thirteen member states that — on the occasion of the Agrifish Council, among the Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries on 18 July — came out in favour of an ambitious revision of the regulation on the transport of live animals, which is planned to be presented by the European Commission in 2023. The deafening silence of Minister Patuanelli on such an important issue as animal welfare is unacceptable. Italy once again shows total indifference towards this issue and, on the contrary, unconditional support for a food system based on profit at all costs, as well as on intensive and industrial farming practices that not only exploit other sentient beings as if they were commodities, but also destroy forests, pollute soil and water, increase greenhouse gas emissions, and bankrupt small farmers. This is an unsustainable model for the entire planet, so it is urgent to reverse course without wasting any more precious time.
Eleonora Evi MEP, member of the Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT)