Animal protection groups in Malaysia protested because the country’s wildlife department has used puppies as bait to trap panthers that strayed into a village in southern Negeri Sembilan. Villagers complained to the Wildlife Department after on 4th September 2023 a panther mauled their dog at a fruit orchard in the state.
The Stray Animal Association (Persatuan Haiwan Terbiar) complained about the use of dogs as bait and said it would have been more ethical for the department to use raw cow meat. The Animal Care Society also asked the government to stop using live animals in such operations.
Malaysia’s Wildlife Department resorted to using puppies after earlier attempts to lure the panthers with a goat failed. Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim, Wildlife Department Director General, said it is “standard procedure” to use live animals, and that the puppies were not physically harmed in the process. He added to Free Malaysia Today, “In this particular case, there was an indication that the panther had attacked dogs [before], so we used the puppies for their barking and scent to attract the panther.” He said the pups were unharmed and that officials adhered to operating procedures.
The department managed to trap three panthers on 18th September, 27th September and 1st October. The traps used are cages with a separate compartment to hold the live bait, which can be released once the panthers are caught. However, the live prey would have been terrified by the sight of the predator, which makes this practice unethical, even if neither predator nor prey are killed in the end.
The department has caught a dozen panthers in the state since the start of the year. Negeri Sembilan Chief Minister Aminuddin Harun had previously said the panthers have been treated and appeared healthy, though he did not specify whether they were released back into the wild.