Traps & devices

New Zealand restricts the sale and use of traps under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. Find out about traps and the regulations.


Concerns about traps and devices

Traps and devices are used for capturing animals for pest management and hunting. Internationally and within New Zealand, animal welfare concerns have been raised about the use of some traps and devices.

The sale and use of leg-hold (gin) traps and glueboard traps for trapping animals is restricted in New Zealand under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

The Act also requires capture traps to be checked daily and places requirements on the treatment and killing of trapped animals.

Penalties for breaches

It's an offence to sell or use a restricted trap in contravention of the regulations, punishable by up to 12 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $50,000 for an individual, or up to $250,000 for a body corporate.

Approval for sale and use

Ministerial approval can be granted for the sale or use of an otherwise restricted trap or device, in certain limited situations where it is in the public interest and there is no viable alternative in the circumstances. Applications must be made to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Application for exemption to sell or use a prohibited leg-hold trap [PDF, 214 KB]

Application for exemption to sell or use a glueboard trap [PDF, 31 KB]

Leg-hold trap restrictions

Leg-hold traps (sometimes called gin traps) have metal jaws designed to catch and hold an animal by a limb, usually the leg or foot.

The main animal welfare concerns are the injury and distress to the trapped animal, unnecessary suffering if they're held in the trap too long and the potential for suffering if injured animals escape.

Traps set in residential areas also increase the risk of injury to pet cats and dogs.

The sale and use of leg-hold traps are restricted by size and type. Use is also restricted to protect pets.

No leg-hold trap may be used within 150m of a dwelling without the permission of the occupier, or in any area where there is a probable risk of catching a pet animal.

Leg-hold traps normally have a size stamped on the foot plate.

If traps don't have a size stamped on them, measure them at the widest point across the open jaws, at right angles to the pivot points (hinges). Take the measurement from the outside edges of the jaws. (Size 1-and-a-half traps measure from 10.5cm to 13.5cm).

Longspring traps

Only size 1 longspring traps may be sold or used.

Longspring traps larger than size 1 are prohibited.

Double-coil traps

Only size 1 and size 1-and-a-half double-coil traps may be sold or used, and size 1-and-a-half double-coil traps must be padded. They must be manufactured with padding on the jaws. They cannot be modified to make them padded.

Double-coil traps larger than size 1-and-a-half are prohibited.

Applications for ministerial approval to sell or use leg-hold traps in contravention of the regulations must be made to the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Application for exemption to sell or use a prohibited leg-hold trap [PDF, 214 KB]

Find out more


Glueboard trap regulations

The sale and use of glueboard traps to catch rodents is prohibited in New Zealand. The sale and use of glueboard traps against insects is not prohibited.

Glueboard traps are made up of a base (usually plastic) with a sticky glue layer to capture and hold live rodents. The main animal welfare concerns are injury and distress associated with being trapped, and the potential for inhumane disposal.

Applications for ministerial approval to sell or use glueboard traps for rodents must be made to the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Application for exemption to sell or use a glueboard trap [PDF, 31 KB]

Find out more

Update on glueboard trap approvals

Regulations were issued in 2009 under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 to restrict the sale and use of glueboard traps for rodents.

The regulations prohibit sale and use of glueboards for rodents from 1 January 2015, except under Ministerial approval. Ministerial approval can be granted where it is in the public interest and there is no viable alternative.

Approvals issued in 2015

MPI issued 24 approvals in 2015 – 2 for sale and the remainder for use. The approvals for use are for limited circumstances for:

  • biosecurity and conservation purposes
  • use in and around food storage and processing facilities
  • specialist applications where high hygiene is required.

All approvals expire 31 December 2015.

Application assessments

Applications for approval are assessed according to whether the sale or use in the public interest and whether there are viable alternatives. This includes a consideration of the biosecurity, conservation, public health, animal health or other purpose the glueboard traps are to be used for; the consequences if glueboard traps are not used; and whether the applicant must use glueboard traps to meet a particular statutory or other standard imposed by a client in New Zealand or overseas.

It also includes a consideration of whether other alternatives would achieve the same outcomes. Alternatives have not been tested until recently. This situation is under review, with a working group convened by MPI to support the development and testing of alternatives, and education to support their use.

Approvals subject to conditons

Approvals are subject to a number of conditions relevant to each case. These include:

  • restrictions on who may use the traps and where they may be used
  • conditions to avoid catching non-target animals, and to euthanase trapped rodents and ensure death prior to disposal
  • requirements for daily checking, training, and to report on number of traps and trapped animals at the expiry of the approval period.

Who to contact

If you have questions for MPI about traps and devices, email animalwelfare@mpi.govt.nz.

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