Wildlife conservation meets animal welfare

Paquet, P.C., and C.T. Darimont. 2010. Wildlife conservation meets animal welfare: two sides of the same coin? Animal Welfare 19: 177-190.

Animal Studies Repository

Research Gate

Abstract

Human activities deprive wild animals of their life requisites by destroying or impoverishing their surroundings, causing suffering of individuals. Yet, the notion that animal welfare applies to wildlife has escaped many animal welfarists and conservationists. A well-accepted and applied ethical foundation for animal conservation that considers animal welfare is lacking. We address this by examining how worldviews of conservationists and animal welfarists are related. The clear conceptual link is that individuals within anthropogenically-disturbed populations often endure suffering caused by humans. Accordingly, our objectives are to provide an overview of wildlife conservation, integrate ethical aspects of wildlife conservation and animal welfare, and encourage a ‘wildlife welfare’ ethic among conservationists. We describe the relationship between contemporary socioeconomic and environmental conditions and the impoverished status of North American wildlife. We then describe the ecological plight of large mammalian carnivores in North America. Finally, as a case study, we focus on the tenuous lives of grey wolves (Canis lupus) living in the midst of human-dominated landscapes. We conclude that the suffering wildlife endures because of humans is a collective responsibility that presents a moral imperative for animal welfarists and conservationists alike. Habitat destruction and impoverishment deprives species of life requisites, causing trauma, prolonged suffering, and eventually death. We suggest that a shared doctrine of animal welfare principles is needed, such as a modified version of the internationally-recognised Five Freedoms. In essence, this would be an ethical affirmation for conservationists and animal welfarists.

Keywords: animal welfare, conservation biology, environmental ethics, large carnivores, stress, wolves

Read the whole article as PDF

Become a Raincoaster

Giving to Raincoast enables you to protect what you love most.

For 25 years, Raincoast has been furthering biodiversity conservation in BC. Thanks to your generous donations, among many other accomplishments, we have been able to end commercial trophy hunting of large carnivores in over 38,000 square kilometers of the Great Bear Rainforest, begin acquiring forest land in order to protect threatened Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystems, aid recovery of endangered Southern Resident killer whales by restoring Chinook salmon habitat, and establish a university research lab dedicated to applied conservation science. Strong partnerships are integral to our success.

Our efforts need to be maintained and advanced, now more than ever. As the biodiversity and climate crises collide, your support allows us to continue to make tangible conservation gains. 

Biodiversity protection is the most important gift we can give the next generation. Join us as a Raincoaster today!