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Malaysian wildlife authority faces criticism for using puppies as bait to capture panther

In Malaysia, the use of live puppies as bait to capture wild panthers by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN) has sparked a debate on ethical wildlife capture methods.

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MALAYSIA: The Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN) is facing public criticism over their use of live puppies as lures to capture wild panthers, igniting a debate on ethical wildlife capture methods.

The controversy began when reports emerged that puppies were used as bait to successfully capture a panther in Kampung Ulu Beting, Negeri Sembilan.

Timeline of panthers’ capture

Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Haji Aminuddin Harun shared a timeline of the panthers’ capture, starting from September to October, in a Facebook post on 5 October.

The first panther was captured on 18 September, with three puppies as bait, as reported by Sinar Harian.

A second panther was caught on Sept 27, and the final panther was successfully captured by PERHILITAN on Oct 1.

 

He stated that these captures were prompted by a report that a panther had attacked a farmer’s dog on 4 September in Kg. Ulu Beting, Kuala Pilah.

To capture the panthers, traps were set on 5 September, and PERHILITAN members increased patrols in the area for safety.

Dato’ Seri Haji Aminuddin Harun noted that the captured panthers, deemed healthy by a veterinarian from PERHILITAN, would be released back into their natural habitat, away from human settlements.

However, those needing further treatment would be sent to the National Wildlife Rescue Centre (NWRC) in Sungkai, Perak.

Animal rights group SAFM criticizes PERHILITAN’s use of puppies as bait in panther capture, calls for ethical alternatives

However, Persatuan Haiwan Terbiar (SAFM), an animal rights organization, promptly criticized PERHILITAN’s use of puppies as bait, in a Facebook post.

“Is it appropriate for PERHILITAN to use live puppies as bait to capture panthers?” they asked.

In the post, SAFM raised concerns about the mindset and justification of both the organization and its members, who appeared to be inclined to eliminate stray animals in the name of protecting others.

“Today, live puppies have fallen victim; tomorrow, it could be street kittens,” SAFM added.

While there are no specific laws prohibiting such actions, SAFM urges the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) to conduct a thorough investigation.

On 11 October, SAFM issued another post calling for an end to the practice of using live animals as bait for trapping predators.

“Even though the animals were eventually released, and the puppies remained unharmed, this action should be avoided as it may cause trauma to the animals,” they said.

SAFM further emphasized that this action raises ethical questions and violates the Animal Welfare Act 2015, particularly Section 29 (P), which underscores the welfare of animals.

“We respect PERHILITAN’s efforts to safeguard the safety of residents from the threat of panthers.

“However, we urge the Department of Veterinary Services to promptly conduct a thorough investigation into this case.”

SAFM stresses that the use of live bait, like puppies, puts their lives at risk.

They cautioned that if things go wrong, it could result in the unfortunate loss of these puppies’ lives.

As a more humane alternative, they suggested using raw meat from goats, chickens, cows, or turkeys to attract the panthers.

PERHILITAN defends their method of capture

In justifying their actions, the director-general of PERHILITAN, Abdul Kadir Abu Hassan, informed FMT that no puppies were harmed during the operation and that the department strictly adhered to established standard operating procedures.

He explained that PERHILITAN typically employed live goats as bait for capturing wild tigers and panthers.

However, in this instance, the use of a live goat did not yield success.

“We tried baiting the panther with a live goat but with no success.

“In this particular case, there was indication that the panther had attacked dogs, so we used the puppies for their barking and scent to attract the panther,” he said, adding that panthers would only fall into traps that contain the animals they usually prey on.

As per Kadir’s explanation, the department had to turn to using puppies because they couldn’t accommodate an adult dog within the trap.

Furthermore, he clarified that as soon as the panther was captured, the puppies were promptly released from the cage.

Kadir detailed that the trap designed for capturing the panther had a distinct opening, enabling the swift removal of the live bait once the targeted wild animal had entered the trap.

According to reports from residents to the local Malay daily, the use of three puppies had finally succeeded after attempts were made over a week to capture the panther.

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