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Rating harms to wildlife: a survey showing convergence between conservation and animal welfare views

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Human activities may cause conservation concerns when animal populations or ecosystems are harmed and animal welfare concerns when individuals are harmed. In general, people are concerned with one or the other, as the concepts may be regarded as separate or even at odds. An online purposive survey of 339 British Columbians explored differences between groups that varied by gender, residency, wildlife engagement level and value orientation (conservation-oriented or animal welfare-oriented), to see how they rated the level of harm to wildlife caused by different human activities. Women, urban residents, those with low wildlife engagement, and welfare-orientated participants generally scored activities as more harmful than their counterparts, but all groups were very similar in their rankings. Activities that destroy or alter habitat (urban development, pollution, resource development and agriculture) were rated consistently as most harmful by all groups, including the most conservation-oriented and the most welfare-oriented. Where such a high level of agreement exists, wildlife managers should be able to design management actions that will address both conservation and animal welfare concerns. However, the higher level of concern expressed by female, low engagement and welfare-oriented participants for activities that involve direct killing indicates a need for wildlife managers to consult beyond traditional stakeholders.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2013

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