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Is hunting using shooting a humane way to kill pest animals?

Article ID: 537
Last updated: 02 Dec, 2016
Revision: 3
Views: 5198

Animal welfare experts agree that shooting can be a humane method of killing animals when the following requirements are met:

  • it is carried out by experienced, skilled and responsible shooters
  • the animal can be clearly seen and is within range to achieve an instantly fatal shot and to ensure it is not a lactating female 
  • the correct firearm, ammunition and shot placement is used
  • target animals are not chased (but stalked as not to alarm the animal) prior to shooting
  • wounded animals are located and killed as quickly and humanely as possible
  • death of the target animal is confirmed before shooting another animal
  • if a lactating female is accidentally shot, efforts are made to find dependent young and kill them quickly and humanely
  • all other conditions, as stated in relevant best practice guidelines, are understood and adhered to.

However ‘hunting’ does not always satisfy these requirements. Therefore although shooting using best practice is considered humane, the variable nature of ‘hunting’ means that some degree of animal suffering is likely. The main concern with hunting is that there is no mandatory requirement for hunters to undergo a shooting competency assessment which means there are likely to be many hunters who lack the necessary skills to kill animals humanely. 

The RSPCA opposes recreational hunting, or the act of stalking or pursuing an animal and then killing it for sport, due to the inherent and inevitable pain and suffering caused.


This website provides general information which must not be relied upon or regarded as a substitute for specific professional advice, including veterinary advice. We make no warranties that the website is accurate or suitable for a person's unique circumstances and provide the website on the basis that all persons accessing the website responsibly assess the relevance and accuracy of its content.
Also read
document What is the RSPCA's view on bow hunting?
document What is the RSPCA's view on recreational hunting?
document Is recreational hunting humane?
document Is hunting the same as pest animal management?
document What is the difference between head shooting and chest shooting?
document Why do some hunters use a bow and arrow and is this type of hunting humane?
document Are there any alternatives to recreational hunting that do not involve killing animals?

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