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Animal trapping and animal welfare

Calver, M.C. (2013) Animal trapping and animal welfare. In: Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching. Annual Conference on Thinking Outside the Cage: A Different Point of View, 24 - 26 July, 2012, Perth, Western Australia pp. 65-82.

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While much of the discussion on the use of animals in research focuses on animals as models of human disease, many research projects study free-ranging domestic animals or wildlife. Often, the research benefits animals through better husbandry or management.

Trapping and tagging of animals is frequently integral to this research, so such interference in animal‘s lives is a justified concern, irrespective of whether or not the ultimate goal is improved animal welfare. However, animal welfare need not conflict with wildlife research, because good wildlife studies rarely seek to harm animals (although pest control can be a significant exception). Biologists want to contain costs and therefore don‘t want to use animals unless it is essential, sometimes choosing to study invertebrates rather than vertebrates, replacing fieldwork with computer simulations or models, or interrogating existing data more efficiently through metaanalysis. When animals are used, reducing the numbers to the minimum needed for conclusive results saves cash. Finally, harming animals in any way that alters their behaviour or survival will bias results, so biologists constantly refine their techniques to avoid harm. All this is familiar to animal welfare workers as the ‘three Rs‘ of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement.

This paper explores the common ground between animal welfare and wildlife research through three examples that illustrate how studies of free-ranging wildlife and domestic animals lead to findings of direct benefit to animals through better husbandry or management. Specific applications of replacement, reduction and refinement in wildlife studies are then discussed with reference to useful sources of information and checklists for proposed procedures that may be valuable to members of Animal Ethics Committees.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: ANZCCART
Copyright: © 2013 Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching Ltd
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