Wildlife Management and Animal Rights

Essay, Environmental studies
Wildlife Management and Animal Rights

Project description
Write a response to this students short essay. What do you have to add to the topic? Use at least one source.

From this week’s readings, it is clear there is a substantial difference between the meanings of animal rights versus animal welfare. Animal rights is the belief that all animals have an inherent right to live “naturally” without human use or interference, whereas animal welfare beliefs state that people should treat all animals humanely (Wywialowski, 1991). Many would agree that the core values behind animal welfare correlates with much of the actions of wildlife management. Wildlife managers feel the need to protect and preserve wildlife and ecosystems through measures which attempt to balance the needs of the environment and the needs of humans. However, due to the actions of wildlife population management (such as controlled hunting in order to reduce numbers of a species), animal rights activists often view wildlife management measures with a negative response. For this week’s discussion, I looked at the article, Implications for the Animal Rights Movement for Wildlife Damage Management, by A. Wywialowski. The paper’s aim was to suggest possible means of reducing conflicts between animal rights activists and wildlife damage managers through gaining a better understanding of animal rights advocates.

The fundamental thought behind animal rights is that animals should have the same rights as people, and therefore humans do not have the right to alter their state of being (Wywialowski, 1991). As a believer on the side of animal welfare, I find this goal impossible and unreasonable to accomplish. I think we can all agree (along with most of society), that our actions involving animals should be conducted humanely in ways that minimize the animal’s physical and psychological discomfort. As we continue to alter the environment and grow in population, there is a vital need to implement sound, yet realistic goals for the preservation of wildlife and ecosystems. How then, as environmental stewards, can we accomplish these goals? A common belief among wildlife managers is that if we could only educate the public, then they would view the problem as we do. However, information and education alone are unlikely to resolve differences of fundamental beliefs, as most attitudes and values are formed at a young age and are resistant to change. A 1991 poll showed animal activists make up a small percentage of the population with less than 7% of people in the category of animal rightists (Wywialowski, 1991). Although they make up only a fraction of the population, it is clear that their beliefs and actions by no means have been subtle. There have been numerous news reports of animal activist groups raiding and vandalizing animal research laboratories, releasing animals and threatening research scientists. Some consider these activists to be extremists, however regardless; educating these groups about the goals and beliefs of wildlife managers is an important step in opening their eyes to the common ground both groups walk. This common ground among wildlife managers and animal rightists include their beliefs for strong environmental values. In the article, Wywialowski states this link between the two groups can provide potential common ground between animal rightists and wildlife managers, and thus help bridge the gap between the two parties to increase the ease of communication between wildlife damage managers and animal rights advocates.

The article highlighted a few aspects for conflict resolution that I felt were worthwhile. Some of the recommendations for wildlife managers to consider in lessening their gap between animal activists when addressing conflicting issues are to avoid generalizations (stereotyping) about the probable goals and objectives of individuals who challenge wildlife programs, remember that the public wants to participate in decision-making processes, not just be informed (ask about their concerns), recognize similar concerns, and then attempt to reach a consensus on both your program’s objectives (prevention or resolution of wildlife issues) can be met, and their concerns can be recognized and addressed, describe your program and state its objectives to activists and/or the public in neutral or unbiased terms (Wywialowski, 1991). I agree these are viable steps in attempting to narrow the gap between differing opinions. I also feel that a perfect resolution between the two groups will never be achievable, yet by trying to understand the objectives of each group, participating in active communication and educating animal rights’ activists on the goals and objectives behind wildlife management will help bridge the gap so that at least constructive criticism may be reached.

Chelsea Mahnk


Wywialowski, A. P. (1991). Implications of the Animal Rights Movement for Wildlife Damage Management. Great Plains Wildlife Damage Control Workshop Proceedings, paper 7. Retrieved from DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska – Lincoln website: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/gpwdcwp.


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