Accounting for Individual Animals and Animal Welfare in the Anthropocene

GR: This article by Brandon Keim includes calls on people to apply the concept of animal welfare to wild animals. Applying animal welfare doesn’t mean that animal needs are more important than human needs. However, it does mean that we should not cause animals unnecessary pain or death and that we should treat animals as humanely as convenient. Go here for more on animal welfare and animal rights, the idea that animals have rights equalling ours.

Matt Reinbold (CC 2.0)

“When land is converted to human use, the environmental impacts are typically measured in terms of pollution and populations and species. Unless they’re endangered, the fate of individual animals doesn’t enter the discussion. They’re practically invisible. Given the vast scale of human development and the care given to domestic animal welfare, it’s a big inconsistency.

“Development’s consequences are not limited “to impacts on the environment and biodiversity,” says Hugh Finn, an environmental law professor at Australia’s Curtin University. “The concept of harm should include harm caused to the welfare of individual wild animals.” Writing in the journal Wildlife Research, Finn and Nahiid Thomas, a wildlife pathologist at Murdoch University, call for animal welfare to be included in environmental impact statements.


“The welfare of wild animals, however, is still a niche issue, though not for the animals themselves. As Finn and Thomas point out, animals are frequently killed by machinery, earth-moving and vegetation-clearing. Those who survive often find themselves without homes, competing in a radically transformed landscape that’s been stripped of food and laid open to invasion. They experience physical pain and psychological distress. In the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales alone, Finn and Thomas estimate that converting habitat to human use kills 50 million mammals, birds and reptiles each year. Globally those numbers hit the billions.

“By the standards applied to domestic animals, these are clearly welfare issues, and ignoring that “is an act of wilful blindness,” write Finn and Thomas. They urge governmental bodies “to require decision-makers to take animal welfare into account when assessing land clearing applications.” –Brandon Keim (Continue reading: Accounting for individual animals in the Anthropocene | Anthropocene.)

5 thoughts on “Accounting for Individual Animals and Animal Welfare in the Anthropocene

  1. As a former volunteer with a local rescue/ rehab/ release wildlife center, I saw on a daily basis the negative impacts of human activities on free- living( wild) animals. Animals that had been hit by cars and left to die, branches holding nests with baby birds still in them that thoughtless landscapers cut down and left on the ground, orphaned baby rabbits whose mothers were killed by dogs, birds seriously injured by flying into windows, baby animals kidnapped and raised by humans until they arent “cute” anymore or become too dangerous or demanding to care for; the list goes on and on. Wildlife rehabilitation experts try to care for these animals with the goal of releasing them back into their natural surroundings. Unfortunately there are many issues that prevent this goal from truly being achieved, even with the most professional and dedicated personnel. Being able to actually thrive, not just temporarily survive, can only be accomplished by animals who were raised by their parents; they are taught how to hunt, forage, protect themselves, etc. Animals raised by humans can never receive these necessary lessons. With our ever- growing human population and the housing, transportation and other needs and desires that will accompany it, I am truly saddened by the probable extinction of more and more of our ” wild” neighbors.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said Sirius. We have great power, but we ignore the needs and lives of the innocent creatures sharing this wonderful place with us. In my neighborhood, people try to relocate wildlife threatened by “progress”–the construction of homes and businesses. The little follow-up information I’ve seen indicates it doesn’t go well for the relocated animals. Relocation, like rehabilitation, isn’t a valid solution.

    Liked by 1 person


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