Validation of the live trap 'Krefelder Fuchsfalle' in combination with electronic trap sensors based on AIHTS standards.
Live traps are established in pest control, fishing and hunting, but they are discussed to compromise animal welfare due to inadequate construction and control of the trap. To assure animal welfare, the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) demands for legal regulations regarding trapping devices. According to AIHTS, the certification of each trap is based on evaluation in 20 individuals of a specific animal species (target species). To this end, more than 80% of the animals must not show specific alterations of physiology and behaviour or potential injuries. The aim of this study was to evaluate the 'Krefelder Fuchsfalle', equipped with an electronic trap system, according to AIHTS standards. The raccoon (Procyon lotor) was chosen as target species, as it is an invasive species in urban regions of Central Europe, a potential vector for zoonotic pathogens, and a skilful animal, which potentially is most difficult to meet the AIHTS requirements. The behaviour of the trapped animal was evaluated, before shooting it and performing radiographical, pathological and histological examination. In total, 20 raccoons were trapped within 10 months in a hunting district in Hesse, Germany. Mean period of stay within the trap were 6.39 h. Despite of 14 animals, which demonstrated low-grade excoriations (superficial skin layer) at the paws and rhinarium, no other injuries or alterations of physiology and behaviour were detected. Therefore, this study demonstrates that the 'Krefelder Fuchsfalle' fulfilled the AIHTS standards and accomplished trapping according to animal welfare.