Ethics of Interventions for the Welfare of Free-living Wild Animals
There is growing interest in and support for the development of disease prevention measures in free-living wildlife and for the rescue, treatment and rehabilitation of wild animals that are sick and injured. In some cases these endeavours may be of importance to the conservation of populations but frequently they are undertaken for welfare rather than conservation reasons. There are circumstances in which wildlife welfare can be improved by therapeutic intervention but the difficulties, and their potentially harmful consequences, should not be underestimated. Interventions for the welfare of free-living wild animals whose fate we control or influence and which are therefore, to some extent, under our stewardship, are consistent with the tradition of humanity for and stewardship of domesticated or captive animals. However, it is suggested here that the decision to treat sick or injured free-living wild animals should not be based on welfare grounds alone.
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