The Wildlife Welfare/Conservation Interface: ACES seminar by Pete Goddard
The wildlife welfare / conservationinterface Pete Goddard
Key points1. The concept of wildlife welfare and the ethical stance a) A brief overview of animal welfare in general b) What welfare could mean to a wild animal?2. How can we assess the welfare of a wild animal?3. Can welfare values inform conservation decisions?4. Do individual animals always really benefit from conservation?As this outline suggests, I will present more questions than answers!
The ethical perspective on animal welfare –how ought we to treat animals? – four different ways to view our duties to animals Utilitarian – what matters are the interests of those who are being affected by what we do; the strongest interests prevail Animal rights centred – recognition that animals have an inherent independent value Species integrity – considering the value of the species to be important (perhaps the crux of the conservationist’s approach) Agent-centred – considers how the way we treat animals impacts on usYour personal approach to ethical issues will colour how you view the remainder of the seminar Overview of animal welfare
What does the term “welfare” mean?Definitions of welfare relate to:I. Animal’s awareness of it’s situation (subjective / feelings based)II. Animal’s state in relation to it’s surroundings and its ability to copeIII. Nature-based – the ability to perform a full range of behaviours Welfare is a state, not a quantity - no categorical units An animal can be positioned on a welfare scale in relation to certain criteria An element of human subjectivity in balancing welfare attributes
Feelings-based:whose feelings? A new research approach: QBA – Qualitative Behavioural Assessment An approach based on the descriptive terms developed by panels of observers and analysed statistically using approaches such as principal component analysis. Shows a high degree of correlation regardless of the background or knowledge of the observers. Important to ensure that it is not context-specific (ie will a group of animals in a well-bedded pen attract a different “description” to that of a similar group of animals in a barren pen, even if their behaviour is generally similar?)
What does the term “welfare” mean?Definitions of welfare:I. Animal’s awareness of it’s situation (subjective)II. Animal’s state in relation to it’s surroundings and its ability to copeIII. Nature-based – the ability to perform a full range of behaviours If the second approach is easier …. is this third to apply … approach more appropriate to wild animals?
What does the term “welfare” mean?Definitions of welfare:I. Animal’s awareness of it’s situation (subjective)II. Animal’s state in relation to it’s surroundings and its ability to cope We should considerIII. Nature-based – the ability physical and a full range of behaviours both the to perform mental state of the individual
Attempt at the description of the term “welfare” “The state of well-being brought about by meeting the physical, environmental, nutritional, behavioural and social needs of the animals or groups of animals under the care, supervision or influence of people” Appleby, 1996 “Welfare can vary between very poor and very good…” Broom & Johnson, 1993 Nb. Take care to avoid the North American use of the word “welfare” as something provided for those in need.
Why should we be concerned about wild animalwelfare anyway? Is this too obvious a question? Most people inherently sympathetic towards wild animals For example they like to watch and sometimes interact with them Animals considered sentient beings (able to experience) and so should be treated with some degree of respect Recognition that we can have impacts on wild speciesSocietal differences Possibly related to views about food animals / religious views Different countries afford different “rights” to animals Some of these embodied in legislation
Are there any areas of the world outside of the impact of Manwhere we don’t impact on wild animals in some way? As a result of global changes active conservation measures may be undertaken to preserve species Only 10% of the world’s land is more than 48 hours’ surface travel from the nearest city – leaving forests increasingly open to human interference (New Scientist 18.04.09)
Background to thinking about the concept ofwildlife welfare Consideration of wild animal welfare has received relatively little attention – thus small evidence base Populations or individuals? Considerable body of knowledge in relation to farmed livestock How should the welfare of wild or range animals be assessed? Are there times we have special responsibility towards wild species? I will use some examples from wild deer, vicuna & sea birds
Individuals versus groups or populations:another issue to be aware of when thinkingabout wildlife
Animal welfare is about the individual but…..how do we balance serious issues for a small number against lesserissues for a large number?..importantly for conservation, how do we balance the interests of onespecies against those of another (e.g. predator / prey relationships)?
A starting point:Our level of ethical responsibilityAs animals become more “managed” or impacted does our ethical responsibility increase? Wild ManagedFor example, with increasing intervention in relation to wilddeer (fencing, culling, feeding) comes increased responsibility
FAWC’s “Five freedoms” Freedom from hunger Can we apply these to wild animals? and thirst Is it appropriate to do so? Freedom from discomfort Freedom from pain, injury or disease Freedom to express normal behaviour Freedom from fear and Photo Scott Newey distress
Five freedoms for wild animals Freedom from hunger and Possibly compromised in natural thirst state +/- human involvement Freedom from discomfort Is this likely / possible for wild animals? Freedom from pain, injury or Is this likely for wild animals? disease Natural processes cause these Freedom to express normal This is where wild animals “win”. behaviour Freedom from fear and Any difference from domestic distress livestock?Issue of “normal” or “natural” behaviour to consider; for wildlife read “natural”?
Five freedoms for wild or managed animalsWild Managed
For wild animals – should we intervene? Should we intervene to: Freedom from hunger and thirst Provide food and water at certain times? Freedom from discomfort Treat or kill animals in severe discomfort or when injured or diseased? Freedom from pain, injury or disease Freedom to express normal Provide enhanced or protected behaviour environments or influence predators? Freedom from fear and distress
How can we assess the welfare of a wild animal Welfare can be assessed from observations of: •Physical state (e.g. the presence of emaciation, physical injuries or disease) Second •Behavioural signs (e.g. position in group; main area activity pattern; abnormal stance or gait) So how shall we frame our assessment?
A possible new welfare construct for wild animals Ranging behaviour Foraging behaviour / food availability Breeding choice Lifespan Solitude vs disturbance Health status Does this alternative approach, which focuses on the “nature-based” definition of welfare, help us? Is this a better currency?
A possible new welfare construct for wild animalsWild Managed Health
Non-invasive methods to assess wild animal welfareChanges in behaviourAbnormal behaviour patternsChanges in physiologyHealth / mortality In all cases - which measures / timeframe Photo Angela Sibbald
Using this alternative framework to consider wild deer Nutrition / foraging behaviour Habitat exclusion / ranging behaviour Disturbance Disease / injury incidence Breeding choice All things we could evaluate
Using an understanding of population dynamics Comparing pre- and post-action disturbance Long-term reproductive success Distribution patterns
Impact of human disturbance on red deer 0.7 Less_disturbed Disturbed 0.6 0.5 0.4 % 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 Feeding Vigilant Behaviour type Jayakody, S., Sibbald, A.M., Gordon, I.J. & Lambin, X. 2008: Red deer Cervus elaphus vigilance behaviour differs with habitat and type of human disturbance. - Wildl. Biol. 14: 81-91 Photo Sevvandi Jayakody
Deer fencing - exclosureA recognition by deer managers that they should aim toprevent welfare problems from arising e.g. winter starvationor exposure, in deer fenced out of winter feeding grounds.
Can welfare values inform decisions aboutsustainable use and conservation? Third main area
Interactions between conservation andwelfare objectives in sustainable usePopulation Sustainable use Habitatconservation conservation Socioeconomic benefits Modified from Bonacic et al., 2009
Interactions between conservation andwelfare objectives in sustainable use Animal welfare Population Sustainable use Habitat conservation conservation Socioeconomic benefits Modified from Bonacic et al., 2009
What types of situation give rise to welfare concerns? Harvesting – such as hunting (consumptive use) Human “invasion” into wildlife territory Animals in reserves Translocation (assisted colonisation) Captivity of range animals – reindeer example Ecotourism and disturbance Welfare and nuisance / pest control Protection of vulnerable habitats (animal impacts) Indirect effects (e.g. climate change) ….Many others you can all think of
As an example: The ethical cost:benefit review oftranslocation and reintroduction Need to capture all of the “costs” Many of the welfare costs of working with wild animals also map on to the “cost” considerations for treating wildlife casualties: Capture and captivity Impacts on dependant young Close handling / treatment Welfare risks after release through Release into unfamiliar territory Competition for resources Post-release survival Introduction of infection Predator: prey imbalance Benefits may be easier to ascribe to conspecifics / other species so this justification may be more acceptable to some people
Populations on the welfare balance: an example of potentialconflict for an individual Do population dynamics change as we manage animals? Increasing numbers High population Higher welfare density Welfare Lower welfare
An aside: Dealing with casualtiesCasualties may arise as a direct result ofconservation measuresYou may come across casualty anddiseased animals during the course ofyour workWhat will you do?What responsibilities do you have?Should you intervene?Generally accepted that anthropogenicinjuries should be treated(See BSAVA manual of wildlife casualties)
Vertebrate pest control has welfareimplications to evaluate Trapping – (and evaluation of humaneness and effectiveness of new traps) Poisons / pesticides May be more difficult to develop test standards but objective end points are valuable (e.g. looking at a range of behavioural and physiological responses) Scope for reducing uptake by non-target species Fertility control Deterrents
A specific ethical perspective for“compassionate conservation” (not my descriptor!) The (UK) public view of wildlife conservation An alternative view of wildlife as pests The likelihood of benefit to the wildlife species themselves Impact on the ecosystem of removing / reintroducing individuals Potential disease aspects following reintroduction Can we develop a cost:benefit approach to inform our actions?
Cost:benefit of welfare for farm animals:Can this approach be used for wild animals? Economic approach to resolve conflicts B Level of animal welfare A C D FARM - Level of production / output / value After McInerney, 1991
Cost:benefit of welfare for farm animals:Can this approach be used for wild animals? Ethical approach to resolve conflicts B Level of animal welfare A C D WILD – Anthropogenic impact After McInerney, 1991
Management systems developed basedon animal welfareInvestigate the effects of capture, shearing and release on:• disturbance• reproduction• longevity• post-management losses• subsequent feeding behaviourAudit of welfare and behaviour:• guidelines on best management practice• improved handling and shearing techniques
Back to your ethical perspective: When should youintervene to resolve a wild animal problem? Pathological stage & population problems Conservation problem Reproductive problems Pre-pathological stage Welfare problem Behavioural and physiological responses to stress Normal homeostasis Modified from Bonacic personal comm., 2007
Do individual animals always benefit from conservation actions? A wildlife catastrophe - RSPB estimated that 10,000 seabirds along over 100 miles of coastline in SW England were affected by oil pollution caused by the deliberate grounding of MSC Napoli on 20 January, 2007. Guillemots were the most affected (18 species significantly affected overall) Your challenge: Should seabirds have been treated or euthanased? Is this a conservation or a welfare issue? Where does the balance lie?
Another wildlife catastrophe – with bothwelfare and conservation impacts Is this a conservation / aesthetic issue or one to do with animal welfare? At the 2010 ISAE conference we asked workshop attendees if they believed animal conservation raises any important welfare challenges. VAS : never to always 81 / 110
The welfare vs conservation balanceOne viewpoint: Species of highdo you agree? conservation status Can compromise individual welfare Common species, not listed in any Acceptable SAP etc. compromise to welfare Can’t compromise individual welfare
The welfare vs conservation balanceAnother viewpoint: Species notdo you agree? held in high public regard Species of high public affection – iconic; Acceptable aesthetic value; … compromise to welfare
Conservation:welfare approach for the future An ethical review of all conservation interventions: look at the system overall - working through trade-offs Assessment of “lifetime” welfare account - for individual or population subject to conservation measures Identification of specific welfare weaknesses in conservation actions The conservation manager to be more focused on welfare
Legislators or independent groups to lead ? Is there a need for legislation to prevent or reduce wildlife welfare problems during conservation? Legislation aimed at / restricted to: game parks / reserves, transport, hunting, other proactive management Consumer / visitor pressure through choice positive or negative There is great scope for positive interaction between those concerned with both wildlife welfare and conservation
Questions to take away: As wild animals become more “managed” does our responsibility for their welfare increase? What measures are meaningful? How do we reconcile the conservation of populations with the welfare of individual wild animals? How do we trade off different welfare compromises for wildlife? Would this red deer hind prefer to be in the wild or on our deer farm?