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Minimizing animal welfare harms associated with predation management in agro‐ecosystems

Allen, B.L. and Hampton, J.O. (2020) Minimizing animal welfare harms associated with predation management in agro‐ecosystems. Biological Reviews, 95 (4). pp. 1097-1108.

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The impacts of wild predators on livestock are a common source of human–wildlife conflict globally, and predators are subject to population control for this reason in many situations. Animal welfare is one of many important considerations affecting decisions about predation management. Recent studies discussing animal welfare in this context have presented arguments emphasizing the importance of avoiding intentional harm to predators, but they have not usually considered harms imposed by predators on livestock and other animals. Efforts to mitigate predation impacts (including ‘no control’ approaches) cause a variety of harms to predators, livestock and other wildlife. Successfully minimizing the overall frequency and magnitude of harms requires consideration of the direct, indirect, intentional and unintentional harms imposed on all animals inhabiting agricultural landscapes. We review the harms resulting from the management of dingoes and other wild dogs in the extensive beef cattle grazing systems of Australia to illustrate how these negative impacts can be minimized across both wild and domestic species present on a farm or in a free‐ranging livestock grazing context. Similar to many other predator–livestock conflicts, wild dogs impose intermittent harms on beef cattle (especially calves) including fatal predation, non‐fatal attack (mauling and biting), pathogen transmission, and fear‐ or stress‐related effects. Wild dog control tools and strategies impose harms on dingoes and other wildlife including stress, pain and death as a consequence of both lethal and non‐lethal control approaches. To balance these various sources of harm, we argue that the tactical use of lethal predator control approaches can result in harming the least number of individual animals, given certain conditions. This conclusion conflicts with both traditional (e.g. continuous or ongoing lethal control) and contemporary (e.g. predator‐friendly or no‐control) predation management approaches. The general and transferable issues, approaches and principles we describe have broad applicability to many other human–wildlife conflicts around the world.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Copyright: © 2020 Cambridge Philosophical Society
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