The Welfare of Free-Living Wild Animals in Europe: Harm Caused by Human Activities

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Abstract:

As part of a study into the effects of human activities on the welfare of free-living wildlife, the relative scale and severity of welfare problems in wild mammals and birds in Europe were investigated. Major cases were described and compared in terms of the nature and level of harm (pain, stress and fear) they cause, the duration of these effects and the number of individuals affected. The use of anticoagulant rodenticides, myxomatosis in rabbits, the poisoning of wildfowl by ingested lead shot, the contamination of seabirds with fuel oil, the effects of shooting, injuries due to collisions with road traffic and predation by domestic cats all severely compromise the welfare of large numbers of animals. Practical approaches to the alleviation and prevention of some of these welfare problems are discussed. We suggest that in assessing the environmental impact of new developments and technologies prior to their implementation, possible consequences to wildlife welfare should always be considered.

Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; BIRDS; CONTROL; FREE-LIVING; HUNTING; MAMMALS; MYXOMATOSIS; PAIN; POISONING; ROAD DEATHS; SHOOTING; STRESS; WILDLIFE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 1995

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