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Summaries of EU Legislation

Humane trapping standards

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Humane trapping standards

The European Union wishes to implement humane trapping standards agreed upon at international level in order to promote and increase animal welfare and the protection of certain species.


Proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 July 2004 introducing humane trapping standards for certain animal species.


The objective of the proposal for a directive is to implement in the EU the environmental part of the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards concluded by the European Community with Canada and the Russian Federation.

The proposal establishes humane trapping standards, requirements for trapping methods, technical provisions for testing trapping methods and certification of traps for capturing certain species of mammals listed below.

It concerns the traps used to catch these animals for the purposes of wildlife management, pest control, capture of mammals for conservation and obtaining fur, skin or meat.

Species concerned

The proposal for a directive applies to the following 19 species of mammal:

  • Coyote (Canis latrans);
  • Wolf (Canis lupus);
  • Beaver NA (Castor canadensis);
  • Beaver E (Castor fiber);
  • Bobcat (Felix rufus);
  • Otter NA (Lutra canadensis);
  • Otter E (Lutra lutra);
  • Lynx NA (Lynx canadensis);
  • Lynx E (Lynx lynx);
  • Marten (Martes americana);
  • Pine marten (Martes martes);
  • Fischer (Martes pennanti);
  • Sable (Martes zibellina);
  • Badger E (Meles meles);
  • Ermine (Mustela erminea);
  • Racoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides);
  • Muskrat (Ondata zibethicus);
  • Raccoon (Procyon lotor);
  • Badger NA (Taxidea taxus).

Authorised traps and trapping methods

The traps and trapping methods used to capture the species listed must meet the standards laid down by the directive and be certified as being in conformity by the competent authorities designated by the Member States. The Member States are obliged to ensure that, as from 1 January 2009, these traps and trapping methods are in accordance with the humane trapping standards and that as from 1 January 2012 no other trapping methods are used for the 19 species concerned.

It is proposed to grant derogations for traps and trapping methods that are not in conformity on a case-by-case basis for certain purposes such as the interests of public health and safety; protection of public and private property; research, repopulation or the protection of fauna and flora; the use of traditional traps, etc.

The standards laid down in the directive are aimed at ensuring that traps or trapping methods are effective in catching only animals of the targeted species (in order to minimise the capture of non-targeted animals). They are also aimed at providing for the welfare of animals caught in restraining traps and minimising the time elapsing before unconsciousness and insensibility for those caught in killing traps.

Certification by the competent authorities should be based on prior testing. The annexes to the directive list the requirements for trapping methods, including a number of indicators to be met in the tests for a trap or trapping method to be certified. They also contain technical provisions for carrying out these tests.

If the result of these tests is positive, the competent authorities of the Member States will issue a standard certification document indicating, if appropriate, the specific conditions and restrictions for the use of the traps or methods concerned.

Prohibition of leghold traps

Legislation laying down stricter rules on traps and trapping methods will continue to apply, in particular Council Regulation (EEC) No 3254/91 of 4 November 1991 prohibiting the use of leghold traps in the European Union.

Use of certified traps and methods

Trappers (persons authorised by the competent authorities of the Member States to use traps to catch listed animal species) must be qualified and have the necessary knowledge or have received appropriate training.

Trap manufacturers must identify certified traps and provide instructions to ensure safe and correct use and maintenance.

Implementation and improvement of standards

The Commission and the Member States must encourage research aimed at improving and extending humane trapping standards in order to enhance the welfare of trapped animals.

The Committee established by Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating the trade therein will assist the Commission in implementing the future directive, adopting technical amendments to the annexes to the directive and reviewing scientific and technical information on the standards and tests listed in those Annexes.


In 1998 the Community concluded two international agreements aimed at establishing international humane trapping standards. The first of these agreements was with Canada and the Russian Federation and the second with the United States of America.

Both of these were inspired by the desire to reach an agreement on international humane trapping standards as well as to avoid trade disputes with the main international fur exporters.

The first of these agreements is being applied provisionally between the Community and Canada pending its entry into force, which must be ratified by the Russian Federation.

References and procedure


Official Journal


COM(2004) 532 final


Codecision COD/2004/0183


Council Decision 98/487/EC of 13 July 1998 concerning the conclusion of an international Agreement in the form of an Agreed Minute between the European Community and the United States of America on humane trapping standards [Official Journal L 219, 7.8.1998]

Council Decision 98/142/EC of 26 January 1998 concerning the conclusion of an Agreement on international humane trapping standards between the European Community, Canada and the Russian Federation and of an Agreed Minute between Canada and the European Community concerning the signing of said Agreement [Official Journal L 42, 14.2.1998]

Council Regulation (EEC) No 3254/91 of 4 November 1991 prohibiting the use of leghold traps in the Community and the introduction into the Community of pelts and manufactured goods of certain wild animal species originating in countries which catch them by means of leghold traps or trapping methods which do not meet international humane trapping standards [Official Journal L 308, 11.9.1991]

Last updated: 07.12.2007