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Open AccessFeature PaperOpinion

I Am a Compassionate Conservation Welfare Scientist: Considering the Theoretical and Practical Differences Between Compassionate Conservation and Conservation Welfare

Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre, School of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Private Bag 11-222, Palmerston North 4410, New Zealand
Animals 2020, 10(2), 257; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020257
Received: 25 October 2019 / Revised: 23 January 2020 / Accepted: 28 January 2020 / Published: 6 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Wild Vertebrates)
The well-being of individual wild animals is threatened in many ways, including by activities aiming to conserve species, ecosystems and biodiversity, i.e., conservation activities. Scientists working in two related disciplines, Compassionate Conservation and Conservation Welfare, are attentive to the well-being of individual wild animals. The purpose of this essay is to highlight the commonalities between these disciplines and to consider key differences, in order to stimulate discussion among interested parties and use our collective expertise and energy to best effect. An emerging scenario, the use of genetic technologies for control of introduced animals, is used to explore the ways each discipline might respond to novel conservation-related threats to wild animal well-being.
Compassionate Conservation and Conservation Welfare are two disciplines whose practitioners advocate consideration of individual wild animals within conservation practice and policy. However, they are not, as is sometimes suggested, the same. Compassionate Conservation and Conservation Welfare are based on different underpinning ethics, which sometimes leads to conflicting views about the kinds of conservation activities and decisions that are acceptable. Key differences between the disciplines appear to relate to their views about which wild animals can experience harms, the kinds of harms they can experience and how we can know about and confidently evidence those harms. Conservation Welfare scientists seek to engage with conservation scientists with the aim of facilitating ongoing incremental improvements in all aspects of conservation, i.e., minimizing harms to animals. In contrast, it is currently unclear how the tenets of Compassionate Conservation can be used to guide decision-making in complex or novel situations. Thus, Conservation Welfare may offer modern conservationists a more palatable approach to integrating evidence-based consideration of individual sentient animals into conservation practice and policy.
Keywords: conservation; animal welfare science; compassionate conservation; compassion; wildlife; ethics conservation; animal welfare science; compassionate conservation; compassion; wildlife; ethics
MDPI and ACS Style

Beausoleil, N.J. I Am a Compassionate Conservation Welfare Scientist: Considering the Theoretical and Practical Differences Between Compassionate Conservation and Conservation Welfare. Animals 2020, 10, 257.

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