Killing Wildlife: The Pros and Cons of Culling Animals
National Geographic, Mar 2014
Will James discussion with Mary Pearl, a conservationist with the City University of New York who formerly served as president of the Wildlife Trust, a nonprofit organization now called EcoHealth Alliance.
[Animals can] become so abundant that they then become a threat to the survival of other species and to their own populations.
It may be surprising to most people, but most animal ethicists consider the avoidance of suffering to be more important than the avoidance of death. For example, a sharpshooter immediately removing an unwitting animal is in most cases preferable to a protracted and disruptive capture, with the attendant fear and pain.
Any contact with wildlife should be minimal and humane. And there must be an evidence-based rationale for removal—not wishful thinking, but a sound plan where risks are anticipated and avoided, and the intended goal of disease reduction or achieving a sustainable population level highly likely and constantly monitored.
I think there are two strong strains here that get confused in our society. There are people who are really committed to wildlife conservation. That refers to maintaining the health of the most biodiverse habitats possible. And then there are animal rights advocates, who believe that every animal is ethically considerable and should have the right to live.