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Thread: Interference with wild animals

  1. #1
    fiver's Avatar
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    Default Interference with wild animals

    Hi,

    This may be totally pointless.

    I am considering joining the Animal Ethics Committee at my local University. I have no idea how much of an effect this might have (or if anyone else has done the same). The committee will probably be more concerned about animal welfare than rights . Regardless, I would like to hear your thoughts about the interference in the lives of wild animals.

    Animals are clearly not ours to exploit, use or abuse. Do you think they should be left alone entirely? Do you think it is ethical to capture and/or interfere with the lives of wild animals, provided that the sole purpose of this (potentially traumatic) interference is the benefit of animal populations? Obviously, I don't mean culling! Would this interference amount to paternalism? What are the implications of this position for the rights of the individual vs. the species?

    Please reply,
    fiver.

  2. #2
    cobweb
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    This is a tricky one.

    On the whole I am against the interference with wild animals beyond preserving and safeguarding suitable (natural) environments for them. I hate to see tagging of wild animals, implantation of electrodes, etc, designed to monitor wild animals. Why is 'our' concern what they get up to?. Plus the fact that I believe it would be just as stressful to a wild animal to be caught for tagging/monitoring/branding as it would be to be chased by hunters.

    Where I do have a problem is with injured wild animals. It's my instinct to help them, even if that means an assisted death when there is no chance of survival, but I am guessing this makes me a bit of a hypocrit.

  3. #3
    Greyowl55's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    In my humble opinion there is one, and only one justifiable reason to interfere in the lives of wild animals, and that is to save endangered species from extinction by 'protecting' them in whatever way seems appropriate whilst whatever human activity that is causing the problem is dealt with. Otherwise they should be left to follow their evolutionary course, whether that be good for them or bad.

    Unfortunately life is a little more complicated than that; humans are also an animal species and we are equally as entitled to reside on this planet as wild animals are. Does the doctrine of 'survival of the fittest' kick in here?

    Was there not some philisophy in Star Trek (I did watch it 20 years ago) that when they visited a planet that they should do absolutely nothing to alter the natural course of evolution and history.
    "Nostalgia is not what it used to be"

  4. #4
    fiver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    Thanks for posting. I'll need to think about this some more.

  5. #5
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    FWIW I'm pro-conservation of endangered species UNLESS it causes more suffering than it prevents. Unlike cobweb, I think even tagging etc sometimes has a role with endangered animals because it's only by finding out about their habits that we can protect them. (For example, people sometimes tag hedgehogs to find out where they go to feed and what happens to the ones that don't make it, which would be pretty difficult without the tags as they are hard to follow ) I believe it can be done in ways that don't stress the animal out - in fact if it does stress them it doesn't work because it alters their habits.

    This isn't particularly a vegan point of view - as a vegan I'm more interested than the wellbeing of individual animals than the survival of species. It's a separate thing as far as I'm concerned.

    I would have thought having a vegan on the committee would influence it for the better but maybe you could find out a bit more about what they do first fiver?

  6. #6
    fiver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    "I'm more interested IN the wellbeing of individual animals than the survival of species."
    That is also my attitude.

  7. #7
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    Yes but as a pro-conservation person I'm interested in species too For me, not every ethical question is covered by veganism, IYSWIM.

  8. #8
    cobweb
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    It's only humans who are bothered by a species 'dying out', the animals themselves are (I believe) unaware. So therefore I am also much more interested in the wellbeing of individuals than in the preservation of species'.

    I can't see how tagging, e.g of Hedgehogs, could be done without any stress to the animal . I know the RSPCA have to apply for a license under the experiementation on animals laws (this is probably not technically correct, wording-wise! ) to enable to them to tag Hedgehogs.

  9. #9
    cobweb
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    Quote harpy View Post
    For me, not every ethical question is covered by veganism, IYSWIM.
    I agree with this, we must all use our own intelligence and resources to make our own decisions, Veganism isn't a cult! .

  10. #10
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    I don't know, I try to avoid handling them myself* but there are a lot of hedgehog "rescuers" who do check the ones in their garden over for ticks and so on and reckon they don't usually care one way or the other (as they come back the next night etc). So a scientist could fairly easily put a tag on as part of a similar process.

    I believe the tags are designed so that they come off at once if they catch in anything and they are very light so the hog shouldn't know it's there.

    *I have accidentally put my hand on a hog once or twice (e.g. while trying to put food out and not realising that there was one there already). It didn't seem to bother them as they just carried on with what they were doing afterwards but it freaked me out a bit

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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    Maybe a little bit OT, but I am getting increasingly irritated by the sudden rash of TV programmes where a man goes and lives with a wolf pack, or practically as part of a pride of lions was a recent one; to me it's just another attempt on the part of humans to show how "clever" or "innovative" they can be, and IMO does very little to actually further our knowledge from a biological/ecological point of view than would just observing them from a distance.

    I think it's unnecessary and irresponsible.

  12. #12
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    Yes, I can't really see the point of those either, fiamma. Apart from what you said, it always seems like an accident waiting to happen, and when it does we know who'll get the bad publicity

  13. #13
    cobweb
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    Quote harpy View Post
    I don't know, I try to avoid handling them myself* but there are a lot of hedgehog "rescuers" who do check the ones in their garden over for ticks and so on and reckon they don't usually care one way or the other (as they come back the next night etc). So a scientist could fairly easily put a tag on as part of a similar process.

    I believe the tags are designed so that they come off at once if they catch in anything and they are very light so the hog shouldn't know it's there.

    *I have accidentally put my hand on a hog once or twice (e.g. while trying to put food out and not realising that there was one there already). It didn't seem to bother them as they just carried on with what they were doing afterwards but it freaked me out a bit

    Ok, that's good to know . I think I was probably thinking of something implanted under the skin rather than a simple tag, my memory is a bit rusty. When Hedgehogs are tagged like that, what kind of information is collated which helps the Hedgehogs Harpy? (am curious now!).

    Fiamma, yes, I agree with you. I hate 'wildlife' programmes in the main anyway, and especially the kind you describe .

  14. #14
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    Off the top of my head, I think some of the hedgehog tracking studies have been about what habitat is best for them, e.g. if you release injured or orphaned ones that have been rehabilitated. As I was mentioning to someone else, one study worked out that there's not much point in releasing them in woodland because they head for the nearest gardens as that's more similar to their natural habitat. I also read about one that found a high percentage get eaten if you release them where there are badgers

    There's a bit about it here:
    http://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/research.htm

  15. #15
    cobweb
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    ^ thanks, interesting, and I never knew that about Badgers!. That's where the protective instinct kicks in and I feel like collecting up Hedgehogs and keeping them safe instead of respecting them as wild animals (though of course Badgers are also wonderful creatures!).

  16. #16
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    Yes, badgers can unwrap them when they curl up, that's the problem. Badgers have to eat as well but there is no point in asking for trouble when releasing the rehabilitated hogs, is there?

    Actually there are badgers on the common here but fortunately they don't seem to have made it down here yet. I don't know if they could get through a small gap in a fence the way hedgehogs can so maybe the hogs would be OK anyway.

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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    Perhaps in an idealistic world it would be reasonable to say that no-one should interfere with animals lives and they would just live them out happily. But in this world if the people who care about animals, the environment and conservation donít step in and do their best to act in the animals best interests whilst interfering to some extent to protect them and their habitats from other humans, and to gather the scientific evidence they need to understand the animals lives and ecosystems, then the people who donít care will simply destroy the animals and their habitats alike, whether intentionally or not, and weíll just be sat by not wanting to interfere and with it being too late to gather the knowledge and evidence needed to make a case for protecting the animals or even to understand why a new development and technology has accidentally wiped out a species.


  18. #18
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    Quote Thyme View Post
    ...if the people who care about animals, the environment and conservation don’t step in and do their best to act in the animals best interests whilst interfering to some extent to protect them and their habitats from other humans...
    Yes, I think this is an important point - we have already destroyed habitats to a great extent so there seems to be a good case for "interfering" to try and rectify matters a bit....although again I say this from a pro-conservation point of view rather than a vegan point of view because I don't think veganism has anything to say for or against conserving species (as long as it doesn't involve ill-treatment of individual animals).

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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    Quote Thyme View Post
    Perhaps in an idealistic world it would be reasonable to say that no-one should interfere with animals lives and they would just live them out happily. But in this world if the people who care about animals, the environment and conservation don’t step in and do their best to act in the animals best interests whilst interfering to some extent to protect them and their habitats from other humans, and to gather the scientific evidence they need to understand the animals lives and ecosystems, then the people who don’t care will simply destroy the animals and their habitats alike, whether intentionally or not, and we’ll just be sat by not wanting to interfere and with it being too late to gather the knowledge and evidence needed to make a case for protecting the animals or even to understand why a new development and technology has accidentally wiped out a species.
    Would have to agree with this, humans have already created so many problems through their actions, and continue to do so, it wouldn't be right to just walk away and leave the animals to help themselves at this point. As has been said this has to be done whilst not causing distress to the animals themselves.

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    Bad Buddhist Clueless Git's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interference with wild animals

    Quote fiver View Post
    I would like to hear your thoughts about the interference in the lives of wild animals.
    One thought ...

    If everyone was vegan, bought local seasonal produce, worked as close as home to possible, didn't keep pets etc ... then there would be a lot more 'wild' for wild stuff to do its own thing and thus a lot less 'need' for human interference in the first place.

    As with a lot of things there is a big element of the problem (us, all of us) not knowing it is the problem but believing itself to be the solution.

    Kinda like that if we interfered with nature as little as possible in the first place then there wouldn't be so many problems with nature that 'needed' us to 'fix'.

    I think you should join the committee Fiver. You are intelligent and eloquent and you are good at appealing to the 'herd'.
    All done in the best possible taste ...

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