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Is there one rule for our pets and another for pests? The question of sentience in an animal’s value

Sentience Topic: Behaviour, Emotions Guest: Dr Daniel Ramp and Dr Clive Marks  Date: 14 Apr 2015  
Global Issue: Biomedical research, Human- wildlife conflict


Join us on the 14th April 2015 at 14:30 (AEST)

Australia, like many countries have a number of invasive species which are considered to be pests. On some occasions such species can have a negative impact on Australia’s environment, consequently they often need to be managed. The primary aim of many conservationists is to protect the long-term survival of native systems and ecosystems. This does result in the implementation of eradication programmes, such programmes do often cause compromised welfare to the animals involved. For example, the European red fox, is considered to be a ‘pest’ in many parts of Australia, to keep populations  of this species under control, up until recently an eradication programme using ‘1080’ sodium fluoroacetic poison was used.


Can pest control initiatives ever consider the welfare and sentience of the animals involved? Humans often justify the inhumane treatment and killing of some species over others, dependent upon how we use them and the value they have to us. For example, by some it may be morally acceptable to poison a feral fox, but inexcusable do this to our beloved pet dog, however both are sentient and feel pain. Do eradication programmes cause a disconnect amongst scientists and the public in regards to the welfare of pest species? Are there solutions? Can we have empathy for and consider the welfare of pests? During the discussion our panellists will address these questions, and share their views on the ethics of pest control methods, with a focus on Australia.

Dr Daniel Ramp,Director of the Centre for Compassionate Conservation, University of Technology in Sydney and Dr Clive Marks,Director of Nocturnal Wildlife Research, Pty Ltd, Australia, will share their knowledge and opinions on this interesting topic.

Once the discussion starts please post your questions/comments below for Daniel and Clive to answer. Alternatively send your questions to sentience@worldanimalprotection.org in advance. Our panellists will answer your questions live on the web!



Did you know?

Play behaviour has been observed in many species of crocodilians. Dinets, V. (2015). Animal Behavior and Cognition.