It is important for these Norms and Standards to make distinctions between prohibited methods and restricted methods in the norms and standards of managing damage causing animals. This requires a clear distinction between these in the definitions as it would guide the conservation authorities in terms of their permitting conditions and exemptions. Prohibited activities must be prohibited under all and any conditions, and restricted activities are permitted under clearly specific conditions contained in the permits to be issued.   2.       As a general rule, all activities that are unethical or indiscriminate in their effect should be prohibited. Unethical standards should be those that could result in animal cruelty, suffering and/or unacceptable ecological impacts. Indiscriminate methods are those that could affect non-culprit individuals or species. As such leg hold traps (here called foothold traps, or gin traps), dog hunting, denning, helicopter hunting, species culls, poison baits (inclusive of coyote getters), and snares are all both unethical and indiscriminate methods and as such should thus be prohibited. Prohibited methods should never be allowed under any circumstances, nor be subject to exemption provisions.   3.       Restricted activities in turn should be all activities that are not prohibited and that result in lethal controls of damage causing animals. We strongly recommend that all restricted activities be subject to a permit being issued each time such an activity is being contemplated and applied for. Permits for restricted methods must not be allowed to be issued prospectively (without a recorded and inspected damage event(s)) as a means to kill animals or cull species prophylactically.   4.       In terms of restricted and prohibited activities: a.       The meaning and implication of restricted activities are void for vagueness in the current standards and thus opens the system to abuse. Specifically, the document is unclear and vague on the implications of an activity being restricted, and leaves it open to being manipulated for ends that are ecologically damaging. Restricted activity should specifically refer to each time such activities is to be carried out and be prescriptive to the conservation authorities as to how such permits be issued. Currently the conservation authorities issue wide-ranging exemptions in annual hunting notices on methods and specific species being hunted and for extended periods of time. Each hunting event should be subject to an application, verification and permit issuing action.  The issuing of permits for hunts in the absence of losses having occurred or being proven is widely abused at present. b.       The Norms and Standards are silent of those activities that should be prohibited. We strongly recommend that all prohibited activities be prohibited under all conditions and that those activities be defined and listed as being such. We also recommend that the Norms and Standards make a defined distinction between prohibited and restricted activities. The prohibited activities should include: leg hold (gin) traps, walk through snap (“Killer”/conibear) traps, poison baits (inclusive of coyote getters), denning, dog hunting and helicopter hunting. Additionally, we recommend that all forms of holding captive of individuals of damage causing animals be prohibited.   5.       Chapter 2 section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa deals with the Bill of Rights, and the provisions of this Norms and Standards undermine those rights. I refer you to section 24 in the Bill of Rights in this chapter of the constitution that deals with the environment. I quote specifically:                             24. Environment        Everyone has the right ­

  1. to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and
  2. to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that ­
    1. prevent pollution and ecological degradation;
    2. promote conservation; and
    3. secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

      These norms and standards specifically enable the use of methods that have been scientifically proven to cause ecological degradation, to undermine conservation and ecologically sustainable development.  This specifically involves the issue of foothold traps (known generally as gin traps), dog hunting, denning, helicopter hunting, poison baits, and snares and the use of hunting dogs. This will open this piece of statute to a constitutional challenge as it stands here. Furthermore, section 7 (2) of the constitution places an obligation on all, but specifically the “state must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights in the Bill of Rights”. As such I would expect this document to specifically do so too. The supremacy of the Constitution must be respected. The constitutional rights to dignity, psychological integrity, freedom from violence and the environmental rights guaranteed in the constitution are placed in jeopardy by the provisions in these norms and standards. Animals are not accorded legal rights in our constitution, in a civilized and humane society of which we hope we are a part, we have a duty of care to treat our environment respectfully and humanely, neither of which are promoted by the contents of this document.

    4. Certain provisions in the document run contrary to other acts and legislation, for example the allowed method of dog hunting is prohibited in terms of the Animal Protection Act 71 of 1962 and thus may be unlawful, as are the use of traps, poisons, lures and denning. Other provisions are unlawful in terms of certain species such as listed Threatened Or Protected Species (TOPS) being hunted through luring in methods like call and shoot hunting, dog hunting and leg hold (gin) traps.

    5. The definition of a damage causing animal is so broad as to effectively make ALL wildlife that are carnivores or even crop consuming animals by definition damage-causing animals, and with the subsequent vagueness of the control of restricted activities, and the absence of listing of prohibited activities, this will lead to ongoing and wide-scale abuse against the faunal diversity of South Africa. A major flaw in the current Norms and Standards is the definition of a Damage Causing Animal is the inclusion of the phrase “or group of animals”, which apart from linguistically flawed in the structure of the sentence is opening the entire Norms and Standards to being abused and allow for ongoing species-wide extermination efforts through blanket culls. We strongly recommend that the definition should strike this phrase from the defining characteristics as the abuse of the past practices has relied on this aspect to effect blanket species culls of indigenous naturally distributed species.

    6. This Norms and Standards compounds the existing confusion between the provisions of the TOPS regulations, NEMBA and the various provincial ordinances and hunting notices/permit /bag limit provisions pertaining to damage causing animals. The terms and definitions vary, and the net result will be that the confusion legalizes the continued indiscriminate extermination of many animals and indeed species. For example, certain activities against TOPS listed species are prohibited, yet if they are classified as a DCA they would be permitted in these standards, besides, if, as per definition of these Norms and Standards, all wildlife would be classified as DCA’s it would make the TOPS regulations obsolete.   Omissions from the Norms and Standards.

    7. A very important omission from the Norms and Standards is that under no circumstances should a damage causing animal be hunted for any profiteering venture or be “sold” to a hunting client. (In fact in clause 17 (1) it suggest that the sale of products of a Damage Causing animal may be permitted.) This is an VERY important provision that MUST BE ADDRESSED and REMOVED as certain key and high hunting value species will all find themselves being motivated as being damage causing animals and will be selectively persecuted.

    8. No restricted activity permits should be issued post the execution of an activity.

    9. The absence of the definitions of prohibited and restricted activities is an omission that will lead to general abuse of damage causing animals. Prohibited activities should be defined as those activities that are prohibited under all and every circumstances. Restricted activities should be defined as activities that are restricted through the use of permit conditions laid down by the relevant issuing authority, and guided by the minimum requirements listed in the Norms and Standards.

    10. The absence of a detailed list of prohibited activities is a glaring omission, these should include: a.       Snaring b.       Leg hold (gin) traps c.       “Killer”/Conibear walk-through snap traps d.       Poison baits e.       “Coyote” getters f.        Hunting dogs g.       Denning h.       Helicopter hunting i.         Holding captive of captured DCAs, especially to capture urine or excrement scent lures. j.             Specific Objections and Comments.

    11. Refer definition of foothold traps, which is problematic: The term should be leg-hold traps. The traps do not often catch the animal on the foot but mostly on the legs.

    12.   Refer definition of padded: This is a fallacious attempt to soften gin traps as the only effect this padding has is on the possible reduction of skin breaches but does nothing for resultant fractures, ligament, tendon and soft tissue injuries, not least for prevention of secondary injuries from trying to bite themselves free of the traps. This is a cynical attempt to try to perpetuate the use of these devices, as was labelling them soft traps in the 2010 draft Norms and Standards.

    13. Definition of damage causing animal as it stands is a MAJOR problem in these Norms and Standards as they effectively make all wildlife damage-causing animals per se. This creates the avenue for the persecution of wildlife on the whim of any applicant to conduct restricted activities. It is imperative that wildlife only be classified as damage causing animals with good reason and after repeated, regular and excessive damage been proven and verified, with all reasonable preventative measures having been tried. The use of the term substantial in the current Norms and Standards is void for vagueness as it would mean the loss of a single animal with substantial value (a stud bull or sable calf) would warrant killing the wild animal. This is clearly wrong and will lead to abuse of these Norms and Standards.   As such we recommend the following definition to be included, and please note that livestock farming and game farming requires different definitions:   “damage-causing animal” means an individual wild vertebrate animal that, when interacting with humans or interfering with human activities, there is substantial proof that it— In livestock farming: (a) causes repeated and regular and excessivelosses to livestock; despite the land user having applied and exhausted all reasonable methods and systems of exclusion and damage prevention. In game Farming: (a) causes “repeated and regular and excessive” losses to other wild specimens, which is inconsistent with the animal’s natural behavior and ecologically damaging to the specific enterprise; despite the existence of a certification of adequate enclosure to exclude predators from a game farming area, as approved and verified by the relevant environmental management agency. In both game and livestock farming: (b) causes “repeated and regular and excessive” damage to cultivated trees, crops, natural flora or other property; despite the land user having applied and exhausted all reasonable methods and systems of exclusion and damage prevention. (c) presents an imminent and realistic threat to human life;

    14. Refer 3 (a) – it is noted that in terms of the Animal Protection Act 71 of 1962 it is an offence to: a.       Ill-treat or maim any animal b.       Cause unnecessary suffering c.       Lays any trap or other device for the purpose of capturing or destroying any animal, wild animal or wild bird the destruction of which is not proved to be necessary for the protection of property or for the prevention of the spread of disease d.       Use unregistered dog clubs e.       Wantonly or unreasonably or negligently doing or omitting to do any act or causing or procuring the commission or omission of any act, causes any unnecessary suffering to any animal   Any method that is indiscriminate is therefore unlawful in terms of this legislation and thus should be deemed prohibited activities. The use of leg-hold (gin) traps, snares, coyote getters, conibear traps, denning, poisons or lures (inclusive of coyote getters), helicopter hunting, holding damage causing animals captive, hunting with dogs are not permitted in terms of this legislation and its inclusion on these Norms and Stands makes it inconsistent with the law and opens itself up to a legal challenge.

    15. Refer 5 (2) i: should be inserted: “actions taken and efforts made by the landowner to mitigate or reduce damage caused by the implicated damage casing animal”.

    16. Refer 6 (4) (a) consent need not be written as these events take place in emergencies in the field away from pen and paper. This should read “with appropriate consent”.   a.       Refer 6 (4) (a) (i), (ii) & (iv) retain b.       Refer 6 (4) (a) (iii) completely impractical as often protected areas where these animals are released have literally hundreds of neighbours which cannot realistically be contacted to consent to such practices. The relevant insertion here should be the appropriate consent of the relevant conservation authority should be obtained. We recommend that this provision should read that “the issuing authority may decide to release a translocated animal in an area it deems appropriate, or the receiving landowner or entity that seeks to received such an animal must sign a written undertaking accepting all legal responsibility and liabilities for the animal being received, and must abide by the provisions laid down by the relevant issuing authority.”

    17. Refer 6 (4) b (vi) completely impractical as often protected areas where these animals are released have literally hundreds of neighbours which cannot realistically be contacted to consent to such practices. The relevant insertion here should be the appropriate consent of the relevant conservation authority should be obtained. We recommend that this provision should read that “the issuing authority may decide to release a translocated animal in an area it deems appropriate, or the receiving landowner or entity that seeks to received such an animal must sign a written undertaking accepting all legal responsibility and liabilities for the animal being received, and must abide by the provisions laid down by the relevant issuing authority.”

    18. Refer 7 (1) (f) strike this as this method is repetitive as this devise is an aversion device that is identical to 7 (1) (d) (v).

    19. Refer 8: Note comment above about the omission of a section on prohibited methods that has not been addressed. The methods listed inclusive of poisons, leg hold traps (gin traps and wrongly called foothold traps), hunting dogs, coyote getters (here called poison firing apparatus) and denning. As stated above the majority of these restricted conditions fall within the categories of what should be prohibited methods. It begs the question what is to be done with methods such as helicopter hunting, conibear traps, and poison baits that are not even mentioned? THIS IS A FATAL FLAW IN THESE NORMS AND STANDARDS.

    20. .   Refer 10 (1) Poison collars should be a prohibited method.   a.       Refer 10 (1) (e) this is a fanciful and naive provision as these carcasses are hardly ever found and thus poison in distributed into the environment with cascading effects. The deaths of the victims are torturous and inhumane and thus unethical.

    21. Refer 12 (1) Call and shoot hunting: This method, as it is currently ubiquitously used in the industry, flies in the face of the purported ambition of these Norms and Standards as they are the mainstay of widespread species culls and efforts to wipe out indigenous natural occurring species. The provision of 12 (1) (d) needs to be strengthened so as to ensure that the conservation authorities only issue permits against individual animals relating to individual damage caused events, also placing a restriction on the number of individuals to be targeted and for a limited period. All prospective prophylactic killing permits should be disallowed as with exemptions as currently contained in provincial hunting notices.

    22. Refer 13 (1) Leg hold traps (not foothold – these are the commonly called gin traps) This method should be a prohibited method. The traps should be prohibited in manufacture, sale, distribution, use and possession. Even if retained as a restrictive activity the manufacture, sale, distribution, use and possession must be regulated by strict permitting conditions. If the latter is contemplated these devices are to be returned to the custody of conservation authorities after a limited period allowed in the permitted use.

    23. Refer 13 (1): Minimum requirements of “foothold traps” is problematic. The specific minimum requirements of the so-called “foothold traps” have many problems: a.       Refer 13 (2) (a): The definition suggested that these traps must be target specific and selective. This is not practically possible. These traps are by their nature non-specific and indiscriminate and almost invariable lethal. In no way is it thus possible to assert they can have specificity or selectiveness. There is no research to support the stance that gin traps are target specific, effective or selective in trapping damage causing animals. There are however numerous scientific papers as well as comments by top academics and researchers to illustrate the lack of target specificity and poor efficacy of the use of gin traps to trap DCA in farming areas.  b.       Refer 13 (2) (b): The selection of a minimum weight of 1.75kg is utterly arbitrary and entirely irrelevant, as almost all traditional by-catch of gin traps of these species are above this weight category and thus susceptible to their impact. There has only been researched by one researcher in South Africa in an area of questionable mammalian biodiversity. Although the trapping of certain species such as the Cape fox Vulpes charma and the Bat eared fox Otocyon megalotis may be reduced by setting the tread plate to release at pressures in excess off 1.75kg, in reality this mechanism has been in operation in South Africa for over 15 years as seen in the “Terminator” gin trap tread plate mechanism. However, in practice, this has not alleviated the by-catch of thousands of non-target innocent species. Skinner & Chimimba (2005) indicate that the following species (for example) would fall prey to these devices as they fall above this weight category: Cape fox, African wild cat, bat eared fox, civets, genets, black footed cats, primates, antelope, dassies, rock rabbits, spring hare, scrub hares, cane rats, leopard cheetah, lion, hyena, caracal, jackal, domestic dogs, humans, etc (to arbitrarily select a few species). c.       The actual description of foothold traps is the actual parameters of the most commonly used gin traps in South Africa, namely those manufactured by Mr Peter Schneekluth of Prince Albert, being sold under the name of “terminator” traps and “leopard” traps. These traps fall exactly into the Norms and Standards definitions and description of minimum standards as it stands in the current document. d.       In addition, the power of the spring mechanism has not been coherently addressed. This is perhaps the most important aspect of the gin trap mechanism with respect to causing injury to trapped wildlife. A trap such as the “Terminator” is way too powerful even for an animal the size of a leopard. This has been vividly illustrated on numerous occasions where numerous species of wild animals trapped with the Terminator gin trap have had to be euthanized as a result of their limb injuries associated with this trapping specific mechanism. e.       Refer Refer 13 (3): This is a practice of luring is prohibited by the Animal Protection Act (71 0f 1962) and thus unlawful.

    24. Refer 15 (1): Coyote Getters: This method should be prohibited as it targets all carnivores and scavenging species. It is inconceivable that the Department of Environmental Affairs could possibly contemplate the allowance of this discredited and ecologically ruinous method of killing carnivores, never mind its unethical nature. The method entails placing a scent lure (which in itself is unlawful), then a ballistics trigger device (itself unlawful) containing poison or a bullet (itself unethical, ecologically ruinous and dangerous without being able to be individual damage causing animal specific. It is simply irresponsible that the Department of Environmental Affairs is contemplating placing cyanide in the environment, with all its cascading effects and dangers for humans and other species.

    25. Refer 16 (1) Denning is probably the most indiscriminate, ecologically ruinous and certainly the most unethical method proposed by these Norms and Standards. Denning should be a prohibited method. It is simply cynical that this is termed a preventive control strategy. It appears that this is part of a determined species wide cull as it refers to using it merely if jackal predation has occurred in an area. The fact that these dens are usually old aardvark burrows, shown to commonly give shelter to 26 other mammalian species, and the fact that the Department of Environmental Affairs considers the use of poison gas into these burrows is beyond the pale and should be roundly condemned. This method should be outlawed.

    26. Refer 17 (1) it should be expressly prohibited that any hunt, product from or part of a damage causing animal may be sold as this will create incentives to classify animals as damage causing animals and agitate for their destruction.   I trust that these detailed submissions will be considered and that the department will apply its mind to the illustrated flaws, omissions and recommendations made herein.