The Welfare of Free-Living Wild Animals: Methods of Assessment
In assessing the relative merits of farm animal production systems or research procedures using live animals, the impact on the welfare of the animals involved is increasingly being taken into account. Many human activities and human-induced environmental changes can, similarly, adversely affect the welfare of free-living wild animals. As part of a study to investigate the ways in which, and the extent to which, this occurs, we considered methods for the assessment of wildlife welfare. Although it is widely accepted that animals can experience and suffer pain and stress, there are difficulties in measuring the intensities of these states (and continuing debate about the terminology and meaning of these and related concepts as applied to animals). In attempting to scale the degree of harm in the various cases examined, a number of factors need to he considered, including: the nature of the harm caused, its duration, the numbers of animals affected and their capacity for suffering. We explored ways of quantifying these. The study was undertaken to provide a basis for prioritizing actions to alleviate existing wildlife welfare problems and for assessing the possible wildlife welfare impact of future environmental changes or changes in industrial agricultural and other practices.
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