INVASIVE ANIMALS: KILLING FOR THE GREATER GOOD OR SHSORT-TERM EXPEDIENCY?

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Citation:
2014
Issue Date:
2014
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Abstract The regulation of ‘invasive’ or ‘pest’ animals presents decision makers with many challenges. These include how to manage species that are instrumental in the decline of native biodiversity, or otherwise conflict with the human use of natural resources. In this context, philosophies of environmental ethics regard the value of animals as an integral component of the decision-making process. This calls into question how regulators appraise competing interests and whether regimes should be shaped by utilitarian notions of welfare or extend to consideration of the life of individual species. Using the Model Codes of Practice for the Humane Control of animals such as goats, camels, donkeys and horses (Model Codes), the paper explores how invasive or pest animals are regulated in Australia. The description of pest animals in the Model Codes includes species that are ‘troublesome’ or a ‘general nuisance’. While these descriptors considerably widen the reach of the regime they do not automatically determine how society should deal with ‘pest’ species. The paper argues that the Model Codes become a locus for acquiescing on the impacts of ‘pest’ animals as well as deciding what welfare considerations are relevant to their eradication. At the same time, welfare concerns are rationalised to the point that killing becomes the preferred regulatory option. Indeed, by invoking the risk that invasive or pest species pose, the Model Codes conclude that the species must be killed otherwise management goals remain unfulfilled. Killing animals thus becomes an assimilated part of the reality of natural resource management. Yet this approach does not adequately consider either the long-term effectiveness of culling or the morality of wholesale killing.
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