M.A.A.M. (Maite) van Gerwen MSc

M.A.A.M. (Maite) van Gerwen MSc

Sustainable Animal Stewardship

Dilemmas in the Management of Liminal Rodents—Attitudes of Dutch Pest Controllers

Van Gerwen, Nieuwland, van Lith and Meijboom - 2020

When non-human animals are labeled as ‘pests’, their moral status and welfare seem relatively unimportant. In a multi-stakeholder project, we develop an assessment frame for a more responsible rodent management that includes animal welfare. An online survey among 129 Dutch pest controllers was carried out in order to find out more about pest controllers’ attitudes about animal welfare. Respondents indicate to consider animal welfare in their job. They see differences in the welfare impact of different rodent control methods. A dilemma may occur when methods with a high impact, such as rodenticides, are ofttimes used in practice. Respondents also indicate that in different real-life scenarios (the hospital kitchen vs. the private backyard), a different weight may be attributed to the importance of animal welfare. Almost half of the respondents encounter difficulties when weighing animals against human interests. The problems are mainly related to clients who are not willing to invest sufficient money in preventive methods, where respondents do believe in. Some differences were found between respondents depending on membership of a professional association for pest controllers. The results of this study are relevant input for focus groups with pest controllers and their clients and for the development of the aforementioned assessment frame.


The black box of rodents perceived as pests: on inconsistencies, lack of knowledge and a moral mirror

Van Gerwen and Meijboom - 2018

Discussions about food production and animals often focus on the welfare and treatment of production animals. However, more animals are involved. All over the world, unspecified, but large numbers of wild living rats, mice and other animals are killed because they are perceived as pests. If labelled as a pest animal, discussions on moral status and welfare seem to disappear from the public debate. This seems rather strange, if we take into account that these rats and mice do not differ in their capabilities to suffer compared to rats and mice in other contexts. In this paper, we present the first results of a study on this topic by the Centre for Sustainable Animal Stewardship. It includes the current status of the treatment of rodents perceived as pests, an overview of stakeholder attitudes and first reflections on its moral dimensions. Participating stakeholders feel the need to improve the treatment of mice and rats perceives as pests in terms of animal welfare, humanness and effectiveness of control. They urge for a better application of preventive measures by all people involved in pest control, including private persons. More attention should be paid to the humanness of control measures. National coordination and monitoring under the responsibility of the government is necessary for better implementation of IPM and more responsible rodent control. The outcomes of the study seem promising for the start of a dialogue about the treatment of rodents perceived as pests and improvements to make. Furthermore, they may be an inspiration for and start of a broader dialogue about ways to achieve a responsible and sustainable human-animal relationship.


Rumble in the urban jungle: moral dilemmas in the management of liminal rodents perceived as pests

Nieuwland, Van Gerwen and Meijboom - 2019

Non-human animals (hereafter ‘animals’) populate food production chains in abundance. Discussions about the treatment and welfare of animals usually concern livestock. However, within food production chains many more animals are involved. For the purpose of e.g. food safety, human and animal health, hygiene and safety of stables, large numbers of liminal rodents are killed (with some methods inflicting significant levels of suffering). Whereas the welfare of animals used for food production attracts ever-increasing societal concern, animals perceived as pests are paid scant attention. Considering that rodents have similar capacities to suffer compared to animals used for food production, consistency appears to require that we take their interests into account as well. A stakeholder consultation performed in 2018 by the Centre for Sustainable Animal Stewardship (CenSAS) on the topic of pest management highlighted a shared need to take the moral status and welfare of liminal rodents more seriously. Together with stakeholders, CenSAS is working on the development of an assessment frame for responsible pest management. In order to identify relevant moral concerns and dilemmas, as well as to develop an adequate assessment frame that will support decision-making in practice, the knowledge and experience of pest management professionals is indispensable. That is why we have sent out a survey among these professionals. At the time of writing these words, the results are not available yet. The paper will look into the philosophy behind the survey. At the EurSafe conference in Tampere, Finland, we’ll be able to discuss the relevance of our findings, as well as present the first version of our assessment frame for sustainable and responsible pest management.



Wetenschappelijke publicaties

van Gerwen, M., Nieuwland, J., van Lith, H., & Meijboom, F. (2022). Animal welfare in rodent control: attitudes of pest controllers and dilemmas they face. Abstract from 10th International Conference on Urban Pests, Barcelona, Spain.


Wetenschappelijke publicaties

van Gerwen, M. A. A. M., & de Haas, E. (2021). The Need for an Alternative to Culling Day-Old Male Layer Chicks: A Survey on Awareness, Alternatives, and the Willingness to Pay for Alternatives in a Selected Population of Dutch Citizens. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 8, [662197]. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2021.662197
van Gerwen, M. A. A. M., Meijboom, F., & Nieuwland, J. (2021). 33. What if we lack a licence to kill – thinking out-of-the-box in our relationship with liminal rodents. In H. Schübel, & I. Wallimann-Helmer (Eds.), Justice and food security in a changing climate (pp. 224-229) https://doi.org/10.3920/978-90-8686-915-2_33


Wetenschappelijke publicaties

Rodenburg, T. B., van Gerwen, M., Meijer, E., Tobias, T. J., Giersberg, M. F., Goerlich, V. C., Nordquist, R. E., Meijboom, F. L. B., & Arndt, S. S. (2020). End the cage age: looking for alternatives: Overview of alternatives to cage systems and the impact on animal welfare and other aspects of sustainability. European Parliament, Directorate General for Internal Policies, policy Department C: citizen's Rights and Constitutional Affairs.
van Gerwen, M. A. A. M., Nieuwland, J., van Lith, H. A., & Meijboom, F. L. B. (2020). Dilemmas in the management of liminal rodents— attitudes of Dutch pest controllers. Animals, 10(9), [1614]. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091614


Wetenschappelijke publicaties

Nieuwland, J., van Gerwen, M. A. A. M., & Meijboom, F. L. B. (2019). Rumble in the urban jungle: moral dilemmas in the management of liminal rodents perceived as pests. https://doi.org/10.3920/978-90-8686-892-6_34


Wetenschappelijke publicaties

van Gerwen, M., & Meijboom, F. L. B. (2018). The black box of rodents perceived as pests: on inconsistencies, lack of knowledge and a moral mirror. In S. Springer, & H. Grimm (Eds.), Professionals in food chains (pp. 392-397). Wageningen AP. https://doi.org/10.3920/978-90-8686-869-8_62