Animal welfare advocates have major concerns about a disturbing trend in New Zealand in which people are maltreating and torturing pests in the name of conservation.
1 NEWS has obtained a video posted to a social media site in which a rat is caught in a cage, then the cage is dropped in a barrel of water. The entire episode was filmed for Instagram.
The man responsible said he believed drowning was a humane method of exterminating a pest.
“I wouldn’t do that do a dog or a cat. The reason I did it is because it’s a pest. New Zealand is supposed to be pest free,” he said.
Drowning any animal is a prosecutable offence under the Animal Act, but the man says he had no idea he was breaking the law.
“I was definitely not aware that is was illegal. Since I found out that it is, I’m not going to condone that sort of stuff ever again."
SAFE’s Will Applebe said there’s an alarming trend toward New Zealanders torturing and mistreating predators, thinking it is acceptable conduct because the animal is a pest.
“People are thinking they’re doing their civil duty. To protect native species. Treating animals that we consider pests quite horribly. It’s appalling,” he said.
The SPCA is investigating the rat drowning, alongside a number of drownings involving wild cats.
General Manager of SPCA’s Inspectorate Tracy Martin says the problem worsened during the nationwide lockdown.
“People have had an opportunity to do things they might normally not have been doing. And I think to a large point it’s a bit of ignorance about what is a humane way to die. Drowning is certainly not,” she said.
Psychotherapist Lynn Charlton said killings in this way were callous.
“People do seem to feel, because they’re a species that’s not wanted, and they’re an issue in New Zealand, that they can unleash all sorts of sadism and cruelty against them.”
She said there’s known links between between violence against animals and more serious levels of violence towards other animals and people.
“I think society needs to be concerned about that. These are not signs of compassionate people. They’re not using any empathy.”
Under the animal welfare act drowning an animal is punishable by fine or imprisonment.