Special Issue "Welfare of Wild Vertebrates"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Welfare".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Sandra Baker
Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Tubney House, Abingdon Road, Tubney, Oxfordshire, OX13 5QL, United Kingdom
Interests: welfare of wild vertebrates; wildlife management; human-wildlife conflict; wildlife trade

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The welfare of wild animals has received significantly less attention than has the welfare of their domesticated counterparts, such as farm, companion, and laboratory animals. This may be because people feel more responsible for animals held in captivity, or because wild animals and the impacts upon them are ‘out of sight and out of mind’. Nonetheless, people affect wild animal welfare in countless ways, whether directly or indirectly, deliberately or not—many of these ways are no doubt yet to be identified, but conspicuous examples include ‘pest’ management, development, wildlife tourism, wildlife trade, wildlife conservation, recreational hunting, etc.

Original manuscripts that address any of the issues in wild vertebrate welfare are invited for this Special Issue, particularly those that: (1) Assess welfare impacts associated with anthropogenic activities; (2) assess methods of reducing anthropogenic welfare impacts; or (3) identify and/or quantify welfare impacts that have not previously been recognised.

Dr. Sandra Baker
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • animal welfare
  • human-wildlife conflict
  • pest
  • welfare assessment
  • welfare domains
  • welfare impact
  • wildlife

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Dropping the Ball? The Welfare of Ball Pythons Traded in the EU and North America
Animals 2020, 10(3), 413; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10030413 - 02 Mar 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
Ball pythons (family Pythonidae) remain a commonly exploited species, readily available for purchase in North America and Europe. We assessed the housing conditions of more than 5000 Ball pythons across six exotic pet expositions and 113 YouTube videos. We scored provisions for hygiene, [...] Read more.
Ball pythons (family Pythonidae) remain a commonly exploited species, readily available for purchase in North America and Europe. We assessed the housing conditions of more than 5000 Ball pythons across six exotic pet expositions and 113 YouTube videos. We scored provisions for hygiene, mobility, shelter, substrate and water provision, based on the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) minimum guidelines. We found most entities involved in this commercial enterprise are not providing housing conditions that meet the minimum welfare recommendations for Ball pythons, either publicly or privately. We found that breeders and vendors typically utilised small and highly restrictive enclosures, with dimensions that prevented occupants from extending their bodies to full and unrestricted natural length. Our study also highlights that most vendors are not providing adequate written husbandry guidance to potential consumers, either at exotic pet expositions, on their commercial website, or on associated social media pages. Furthermore, our study also indicates that most potential consumers may themselves be unable to recognise unsuitable housing conditions that do not meet minimum animal welfare standards for Ball pythons. We suggest that more consistent guidance, adherence to agree principles and more potent operating models that are formally incorporated into relevant legislation would greatly aid existing and future efforts to safeguard animal welfare in this regard. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Wild Vertebrates)
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Open AccessArticle
Not in My Backyard: Public Perceptions of Wildlife and ‘Pest Control’ in and around UK Homes, and Local Authority ‘Pest Control’
Animals 2020, 10(2), 222; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020222 - 30 Jan 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
Human–wildlife conflict occurs globally. Attempts to control ‘pest’ wildlife involve killing and harming the welfare of animals on a vast scale. We examined public perceptions of 10 wildlife species/groups and wildlife management, in and around UK homes, and public authority ‘pest control’ provision, [...] Read more.
Human–wildlife conflict occurs globally. Attempts to control ‘pest’ wildlife involve killing and harming the welfare of animals on a vast scale. We examined public perceptions of 10 wildlife species/groups and wildlife management, in and around UK homes, and public authority ‘pest control’ provision, in an effort to identify ethical, welfare-friendly ways to reduce conflict. Most people reported never having problems with each of the 10 species, and reported problems for some species were largely tolerated. Wasps, mice, and rats were the most frequently problematic species, the least tolerated, and those for which local authorities most often offered pest control services. Do-It-Yourself pest control was preferred over professional control, except for with wasps. People wanted control to be quick, lasting, and safe for people and non-target animals. Where people accepted lethal control, they were nevertheless concerned for animal welfare. Drivers of pest status were complex, while drivers of demand for control were fewer and species-specific. Local authority pest control provision increased over the four years studied, but only half of councils offered advice on preventing/deterring wildlife; this advice was patchy and variable in quality. Greater focus is required on preventing/deterring rather than controlling wildlife problems. Councils should provide standardised, comprehensive advice on prevention/deterrence and prevention/deterrence services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Wild Vertebrates)
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Open AccessArticle
Welfare Implications for Hares, Lepus timidus hibernicus, Taken from the Wild for Licensed Hare Coursing in Ireland
Animals 2020, 10(1), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010163 - 17 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Hare coursing is legal in the Republic of Ireland under licenses issued to coursing clubs but is illegal in other jurisdictions in the British Isles including Northern Ireland. Supporters of coursing maintain that coursing contributes to the conservation of the hare whilst opponents [...] Read more.
Hare coursing is legal in the Republic of Ireland under licenses issued to coursing clubs but is illegal in other jurisdictions in the British Isles including Northern Ireland. Supporters of coursing maintain that coursing contributes to the conservation of the hare whilst opponents claim that coursing is cruel and the welfare of the hares is compromised. However, while the contribution of coursing to conservation has been considered, the impact of coursing on hare welfare has not been investigated. This paper reviews publicly available information from licensed hare coursing clubs over four coursing seasons, including the number of hares taken from the wild, numbers coursed, and numbers pinned to the ground by dogs, killed or injured during coursing events. In total, 19,402 hares were taken from the wild—98% of which were subsequently released back to the wild at the end of the coursing season. Almost 600 hares were pinned by greyhounds during coursing events and 75 were either killed or had to be euthanized as a result of their injuries. While the number of hares killed or injured is relatively small compared to the number caught, the welfare of all captured hares will have been compromised and has not been investigated. Policy makers must fill this knowledge gap or take a precautionary approach and further regulate or indeed prohibit the capture of hares which are otherwise fully protected. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Wild Vertebrates)
Open AccessArticle
Efficacy and Animal Welfare Impacts of Novel Capture Methods for Two Species of Invasive Wild Mammals in New Zealand
Animals 2020, 10(1), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010044 - 24 Dec 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
All capture methods impose animal welfare impacts, but these impacts are rarely quantified or reported. We present data from two wildlife capture studies that trialled new methods for capturing Bennett’s wallabies (Notamacropus rufogriseus) and red deer (Cervus elaphus) in [...] Read more.
All capture methods impose animal welfare impacts, but these impacts are rarely quantified or reported. We present data from two wildlife capture studies that trialled new methods for capturing Bennett’s wallabies (Notamacropus rufogriseus) and red deer (Cervus elaphus) in New Zealand. We used helicopter net-gunning for both species, and compared this method with ground-based netting for wallabies and helicopter darting for red deer, using, for the first time in New Zealand, the fast-acting opioid thiafentanil. Efficacy and animal welfare parameters quantified were duration of handling and recovery, and frequency of adverse events, including escape, injury, and mortality. Cost-effectiveness was quantified for each method. Capture mortalities occurred for all methods for both species. For red deer, chemical immobilisation led to fewer traumatic injuries and fewer mortalities, while for wallabies, net-gunning led to fewer mortalities. Net-gunning was an efficient capture method for deer in open habitat, but led to the escape of 54% of wallabies and one wallaby mortality (4%). Ground-based netting resulted in the mortality of 17% of wallabies at the time of capture, and the capture of non-target species. The cost per captured wallaby was 40% more expensive for net-gunning (NZ$1045) than for ground-based netting (NZ$745), but, once corrected for mortalities at the time of capture and suitability of individuals for GPS-collar deployment, this was reduced to 29% and 12% more expensive, respectively. Net-gunning for red deer resulted in the escape of 13% of animals and mortality of 10% of animals at the time of capture. Helicopter-based darting for red deer using thiafentanil (c. 0.03–0.06 mg/kg) had high capture efficacy (zero escapes), rapid induction times (mean of 3 min), and a low mortality rate at 14 days post-capture (3%), but it was more expensive per deer captured and collared than aerial netting (NZ$2677 and NZ$2234, respectively). We recommend reporting of adverse event data for all wildlife capture techniques to permit continual refinement of field methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Wild Vertebrates)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Animal Welfare in Predator Control: Lessons from Land and Sea. How the Management of Terrestrial and Marine Mammals Impacts Wild Animal Welfare in Human–Wildlife Conflict Scenarios in Europe
Animals 2020, 10(2), 218; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020218 - 29 Jan 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
The control of predators, on land and in the sea, is a complex topic. Both marine and terrestrial mammal predators come into conflict with humans in Europe in many ways and yet their situations are rarely compared. Areas of conflict include the predation [...] Read more.
The control of predators, on land and in the sea, is a complex topic. Both marine and terrestrial mammal predators come into conflict with humans in Europe in many ways and yet their situations are rarely compared. Areas of conflict include the predation of livestock and farmed fish, and the perceived competition for wild prey (for example wolves competing with hunters for deer and seals competing with fishermen for salmon). A lethal method (shooting) and non-lethal methods of conflict reduction (including enclosures, guarding, and aversion) used for terrestrial large carnivores (e.g., bear, wolf, wolverine, lynx) and marine mammals (seals) are discussed. Control measures tend to be species- and habitat-specific, although shooting is a widely used method. Potential impacts on predator welfare are described and welfare assessments which have been developed for other wildlife control scenarios, e.g., control of introduced species, are considered for their potential use in assessing predator control. Such assessments should be applied before control methods are chosen so that decisions prioritizing animal welfare can be made. Further work needs to be carried out to achieve appropriate and widely-accepted animal welfare assessment approaches and these should be included in predator management planning. Future research should include further sharing of approaches and information between terrestrial and marine specialists to help ensure that animal welfare is prioritized. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Wild Vertebrates)
Open AccessReview
Blind Trading: A Literature Review of Research Addressing the Welfare of Ball Pythons in the Exotic Pet Trade
Animals 2020, 10(2), 193; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020193 - 22 Jan 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
Extensive numbers of Ball pythons are caught, bred, traded and subsequently kept in captivity across the world as part of the exotic pet industry. Despite their widespread availability as pets, relatively little is known about the potential welfare challenges affecting them. We reviewed [...] Read more.
Extensive numbers of Ball pythons are caught, bred, traded and subsequently kept in captivity across the world as part of the exotic pet industry. Despite their widespread availability as pets, relatively little is known about the potential welfare challenges affecting them. We reviewed the literature for research focused on the health and welfare of Ball pythons in the international pet trade. From a total of 88 articles returned from the search criteria, our analysis showed that very few actually focused on trade (10%) or animal welfare (17%). Instead, the majority (64%) of articles focused on veterinary science. There was a considerable bias towards physical health, with most studies neglecting the four other domains of animal welfare (behaviour, nutrition, environment and mental health). Furthermore, very few studies considered Ball pythons prior to resulting pet ownership, during wild capture and transportation or captive breeding operations. Our review demonstrates that our current understanding of welfare for Ball pythons traded as exotic pets is limited. We recommend that future research should focus on aspects of the industry that are currently overlooked, including the potential consequences of genetic selection during captive-breeding and the conditions provided for snakes prior to and during international transportation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Wild Vertebrates)
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Open AccessReview
Given the Cold Shoulder: A Review of the Scientific Literature for Evidence of Reptile Sentience
Animals 2019, 9(10), 821; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100821 - 17 Oct 2019
Cited by 11
Abstract
We searched a selection of the scientific literature to document evidence for, and explorations into reptile sentience. The intention of this review was to highlight; (1) to what extent reptile capability for emotions have been documented in the scientific literature; (2) to discuss [...] Read more.
We searched a selection of the scientific literature to document evidence for, and explorations into reptile sentience. The intention of this review was to highlight; (1) to what extent reptile capability for emotions have been documented in the scientific literature; (2) to discuss the implications this evidence has for the trade in reptiles; and (3) to outline what future research is needed to maximise their captive welfare needs. We used 168 keywords associated with sentience, to search through four journal databases and one open-access journal. We recorded studies that explored sentience in reptiles and those that recognised reptile sentience in their experiments. We found that reptiles were assumed to be capable of the following emotions and states; anxiety, distress, excitement, fear, frustration, pain, stress, and suffering, in 37 articles. We also found four articles that explored and found evidence for the capacity of reptiles to feel pleasure, emotion, and anxiety. These findings show that reptiles are considered to be capable of experiencing a range of emotions and states. This has implications for how reptiles are treated in captivity, as a better understanding could help to inform a range of different operational initiatives aimed at reducing negative animal welfare impacts, including improved husbandry and consumer behaviour change programmes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Wild Vertebrates)
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Open AccessReview
Killing Traps and Snares in North America: The Need for Stricter Checking Time Periods
Animals 2019, 9(8), 570; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9080570 - 17 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
In this review, we make the point that current checking times for killing traps and snares are inadequate or nonexistent in most North American jurisdictions. We use Conibear 120 rotating-jaw traps and killing neck snares as examples of trapping devices that may fail [...] Read more.
In this review, we make the point that current checking times for killing traps and snares are inadequate or nonexistent in most North American jurisdictions. We use Conibear 120 rotating-jaw traps and killing neck snares as examples of trapping devices that may fail to consistently and humanely kill furbearers. Because these killing devices are not powerful enough for the target species, the trigger systems do not properly position the animals in traps, or trappers are inexperienced and improperly set traps or snares, these killing devices become restraining devices, and animals suffer long and painful deaths. Because trappers use a variety of trigger configurations and trap sets, all killing devices, even those certified by trapper organizations or governments, should be monitored at least once every 24 h on traplines, but preferably every 12 h, because one cannot know a priori whether traps will strike animals in appropriate locations for a quick kill. However, when using trapping devices such as killing neck snares that are legal and allowed by government agencies despite being inhumane, trappers should check them every 12 h. When traplines are situated near urban areas, e.g., within 10 km, checks should be done every 12 h to release pets and non-target animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Wild Vertebrates)
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Other

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Open AccessErratum
Erratum: Baker, S.E.; Maw, S.A.; Johnson, P.J.; Macdonald, D.W. Not in My Backyard: Public Perceptions of Wildlife and ‘Pest Control’ in and around UK Homes, and Local Authority ‘Pest Control’. Animals 2020, 10, 222
Animals 2020, 10(4), 644; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10040644 - 08 Apr 2020
Abstract
The authors wish to make the following erratum to their paper [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Wild Vertebrates)
Open AccessFeature PaperOpinion
I Am a Compassionate Conservation Welfare Scientist: Considering the Theoretical and Practical Differences Between Compassionate Conservation and Conservation Welfare
Animals 2020, 10(2), 257; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020257 - 06 Feb 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Wild Vertebrates)
Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceCommentary
Consequences Matter: Compassion in Conservation Means Caring for Individuals, Populations and Species
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1115; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121115 - 11 Dec 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Human activity affecting the welfare of wild vertebrates, widely accepted to be sentient, and therefore deserving of moral concern, is widespread. A variety of motives lead to the killing of individual wild animals. These include to provide food, to protect stock and other [...] Read more.
Human activity affecting the welfare of wild vertebrates, widely accepted to be sentient, and therefore deserving of moral concern, is widespread. A variety of motives lead to the killing of individual wild animals. These include to provide food, to protect stock and other human interests, and also for sport. The acceptability of such killing is widely believed to vary with the motive and method. Individual vertebrates are also killed by conservationists. Whether securing conservation goals is an adequate reason for such killing has recently been challenged. Conventional conservation practice has tended to prioritise ecological collectives, such as populations and species, when their interests conflict with those of individuals. Supporters of the ‘Compassionate Conservation’ movement argue both that conservationists have neglected animal welfare when such conflicts arise and that no killing for conservation is justified. We counter that conservationists increasingly seek to adhere to high standards of welfare, and that the extreme position advocated by some supporters of ‘Compassionate Conservation’, rooted in virtue ethics, would, if widely accepted, lead to considerable negative effects for conservation. Conservation practice cannot afford to neglect consequences. Moreover, the do-no-harm maxim does not always lead to better outcomes for animal welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Wild Vertebrates)
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