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Abstract

Compassionate conservation focuses on 4 tenets: first, do no harm; individuals matter; inclusivity of individual animals; and peaceful coexistence between humans and animals. Recently, compassionate conservation has been promoted as an alternative to conventional conservation philosophy. We believe examples presented by compassionate conservationists are deliberately or arbitrarily chosen to focus on mammals; inherently not compassionate; and offer ineffective conservation solutions. Compassionate conservation arbitrarily focuses on charismatic species, notably large predators and megaherbivores. The philosophy is not compassionate when it leaves invasive predators in the environment to cause harm to vastly more individuals of native species or uses the fear of harm by apex predators to terrorize mesopredators. Hindering the control of exotic species (megafauna, predators) in situ will not improve the conservation condition of the majority of biodiversity. The positions taken by so-called compassionate conservationists on particular species and on conservation actions could be extended to hinder other forms of conservation, including translocations, conservation fencing, and fertility control. Animal welfare is incredibly important to conservation, but ironically compassionate conservation does not offer the best welfare outcomes to animals and is often ineffective in achieving conservation goals. Consequently, compassionate conservation may threaten public and governmental support for conservation because of the limited understanding of conservation problems by the general public. © 2019 Society for Conservation Biology.
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Deconstructing compassionate conservation
Matt W. Hayward 1, 2, 3, Alex Callen1, Benjamin L. Allen 4, Guy Ballard 5, Femke
Broekhuis 6, Cassandra Bugir 1, Rohan. H. Clarke 7, John Clulow 1, Simon Clulow1, 8, Jennifer
C. Daltry 9, Harriet T. Davies-Mostert 3, 10, Peter J. S. Fleming 5, Andrea S. Griffin 11,
Lachlan G. Howell 1, Graham I. H. Kerley 2, Kaya Klop-Toker1, Sarah Legge 12, Tom Major
13, Ninon Meyer 14, Robert A. Montgomery 15, Katherine Moseby 16,17, Daniel M. Parker 18,
Stéphanie Périquet 19, John Read 20, Robert Scanlon 1, Rebecca Seeto 1, Craig Shuttleworth 21,
Michael J. Somers 3, 22, Cottrell T. Tamessar 1, Katherine Tuft 17, Rose Upton1, Marcia
Valenzuela-Molina 23, Adrian Wayne 24, Ryan R. Witt 1 , Wolfgang Wüster 13
1 School of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Newcastle,
Callaghan, New South Wales 2308, Australia, email matthew.hayward@newcastle.edu.au
2 Centre for African Conservation Ecology, Nelson Mandela University,
University Way, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth 6019, South Africa
3 Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria, Lynwood Road, Hatfield
0028, Pretoria, South Africa
4 University of Southern Queensland, Institute for Life Sciences and the
Environment, West Street, Toowoomba, Queensland 4350, Australia
5 School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England,
Northern Ring Road, Armidale, New South Wales 2351, Australia and Vertebrate Pest
Research Unit, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Orange, New South Wales 2800,
Australia
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6 WildCRU, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Tubney House,
Abington Road, Oxford OX135QL, U.K.
7 School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Wellington Road, Clayton,
Victoria 3168, Australia
8 Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Balclava Road,
Sydney, New South Wales 2019, Australia
9 Fauna & Flora International, The David Attenborough Building, Pembroke
Street, Cambridge CB23QZ, U.K.
10 Endangered Wildlife Trust, Pinelands Office Park, Building K2, Ardeer Road,
Modderfontein 1609, Johannesburg , South Africa.
11 School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan,
New South Wales 2308, Australia
12 Centre for Biodiversity Conservation Science, University of Queensland,
University Drive, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia and Fenner School of Environment and
Society, The Australian National University, Linnaeus Way, Acton, Canberra, Australian
Capital Territory 2601, Australia.
13 College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, College Road, Gwynedd
LL572DG, U.K.
14 Fondation Yaguara Panama, Ciudad del Saber, calle Luis Bonilla, Panama
City 0843 03081, Panama
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15 Research on the Ecology of Carnivores and their Prey (RECaP) Laboratory,
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, 220 Trowbridge Road, East
Lansing, Michigan 48824, U.S.A.
16 The University of New South Wales, School of Biological, Earth and
Environmental Sciences, ANZAC Parade, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
17 Arid Recovery, Roxby Downs, South Australia 5725, Australia
18 Wildlife and Reserve Management Research Group, Department of Zoology
and Entomology, Rhodes University, Drosty Road, Grahamstown 6139 South Africa and
School of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Mpumalanga, D725,
Mbombela 1200 South Africa
19 Ongava Research Centre, P.O. Box 640 Outjo, 21005 Namibia
20 University of Adelaide, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences,
Kintore Avenue, South Australia 5005, Australia
21 College of Natural Sciences, College Road, Bangor University, Gwynedd,
LL572DG Wales, U.K.
22 Centre for Invasion Biology, University of Pretoria, Lynwood Road, Hatfield
0028 , Pretoria, South Africa
23 Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas,
Av. Instituto Politécnico Nacional s/n Col. Playa Palo de Santa Rita, C.P. 23096 La Paz,
B.C.S., México
24 Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Brain Street,
Manjimup, Western Australia 6258, Australia
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Running head: Compassionate Conservation
Keywords: evidence-based conservation, animal welfare, animal rights, effective
conservation, invasives, invasive species, lethal control, translocation
Article Impact Statement: Compassionate conservation has an arbitrary focus on mammals,
lacks compassion, and offers ineffective conservation solutions
Abstract
Compassionate conservation focuses on 4 tenets: first, do no harm; individuals matter;
inclusivity of individual animals; and peaceful coexistence between humans and animals.
Recently, compassionate conservation has been promoted as an alternative to conventional
conservation philosophy. We believe examples presented by compassionate conservationists
are deliberately or arbitrarily chosen to focus on mammals; inherently not compassionate;
and offer ineffective conservation solutions. Compassionate conservation arbitrarily focuses
on charismatic species, notably large predators and megaherbivores. The philosophy is not
compassionate when it leaves invasive predators in the environment to cause harm to vastly
more individuals of native species or uses the fear of harm by apex predators to terrorize
mesopredators. Hindering the control of exotic species (megafauna, predators) in situ will not
improve the conservation condition of the majority of biodiversity even if compassionate
conservationists do no harm to individuals of the exotic species. The positions taken by so-
called compassionate conservationists on particular species and on conservation actions could
be extended to hinder other forms of conservation, including translocations, conservation
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fencing, and fertility control. Animal welfare is incredibly important to conservation, but
ironically compassionate conservation does not offer the best welfare outcomes to animals
and is often ineffective in achieving conservation goals. Consequently, compassionate
conservation may threaten public and governmental support for conservation because of the
general publics‘ limited understanding of conservation problems.
Introduction
The relationship between the welfare of individual animals and a holistic ecosystem
perspective has evolved since the inception of conservation as a science. In his initial
definition of conservation biology, Soulé (1985) adopted Aldo Leopold‘s land ethic, whereby
the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts that include the
environment (Leopold 1949). This perspective conflicted with the individualism philosophies
promoting animal welfare at the time (Regan 1983; Singer 1990). Thereafter, due concern for
individual animal welfare was slowly introduced into conservation theory and practice (Web
of Science search of ―conservation‖ AND ―animal welfareon 9 May 2019 returned <30
publications/year from 1995 to 2004 and over 1100 records in 2018), but only as an ancillary
individualistic ethic to the principal holistic conservation ethic that culminated in
―International Consensus Principles for Ethical Wildlife Control‖ (Dubois et al. 2017). But
beginning with Bekoff (2010) and later Wallach and Ramp and their coauthors (Ramp 2013;
Ramp et al. 2013; Ramp & Bekoff 2015; Wallach & Ramp 2015; Wallach et al. 2015;
Wallach et al. 2018a; Wallach et al. 2018b), a new philosophy compassionate conservation-
-emerged that aims to make the welfare of individual animals the primary tenet of
conservation, thereby attempting to make the compassionate tail wag the conservation dog.
Compassion (or, less specifically, concern for individual animal welfare) has already become
an important aspect of best practices in conservation. However, the conflict is increasing
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between those who believe individual animal welfare is paramount and those who believe
conservation of entire populations at the landscape level is the primary goal. Bekoff, Ramp,
and Wallach‘s perspective of compassionate conservation advocates subordinating
traditional conservation concern for biodiversity to concern for the welfare of individual
animals. This may be considered radical compassionate conservation, but published
perspectives from less extreme compassionate conservationists to confidently conclude this
are lacking.
Mainstream conservationists are only beginning to recognize the risks of elements of
the compassionate conservation philosophy (Fleming & Ballard 2018; Oommen et al. 2019;
Rohwer & Marris 2019; Driscoll & Watson 2019). At a time when resources for conservation
are stretched and urgent action is required conservationists must focus on maximizing
conservation success or they risk losing critical funding and support in favour of inefficient
and ineffective strategies. We examined compassionate conservation to determine how this
philosophy could hinder the conservation of biodiversity. We acknowledge that concern for
the welfare of individual animals has an important place in conservation ethics. Debate on
this matter is timely because most mainstream conservationists are keen to embrace ethical
concern for individual animals as an important element in conservation best practices, but
only to the extent that it is consistent with landscape-level methods of protecting native
biodiversity that are measurably successful.
Examples of compassionate conservation
Proponents of compassionate conservation have identified several conservation
actions they deem compassionate. Wallach et al. (2015) promote the cessation of killing in
the name of conservation by arguing that it often has unintended consequences. They go on
to identify culling programmes aimed at reducing the impact of introduced cane toads
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(Rhinella marina ) on Australian native fauna, gray wolves (Canis lupus ) on woodland
caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), and introduced European red foxes (Vulpes vulpes ) on
Australian native fauna. Killing for conservation is therefore considered unjustified because
the costs to individuals are certain and the benefits to populations and ecosystems are not
(Vucetich & Nelson 2007), despite clear evidence of benefits, in Australia at least. Wallach et
al. (2015) provide examples of animal control where the benefits were questionable;
however, these examples can be countered equally by others illustrating clear benefits. In
Australia controlling red foxes vastly improves survival and persistence of native marsupials
(e.g., Kinnear et al. 2010); in Europe controlling introduced eastern grey squirrels (Sciurus
carolinensis ) has allowed the native red squirrel (S. vulgaris ) to persist and expand its range
(Shuttleworth et al. 2015); and in South Africa controlling introduced Himalayan tahr
(Hemitragus jemlahicus ) has improved the plight of the endemic fynbos biodiversity hotspot
(Rebelo et al. 2011).
Key members of the Centre for Compassionate Conservation
(https://www.uts.edu.au/research-and-teaching/our-research/centre-compassionate-
conservation) promote the idea of leaving non-native megafauna in situ and unchecked to
increase the number of megafauna species present in various countries (Lundgren et al.
2018). This proposition would leave exotic species, such as camels (Camelus dromedarius),
horses (Equus callabus), and donkeys (E. asinus), unchecked in Australia despite the clear
evidence of the damage they do to human, bird, amphibian, mammal, and plant communities
(Nimmo & Miller 2007; Beever et al. 2018). Despite cats (Felis catus ) being present in
Australia since only 1788 (Abbott 2002) and the ecological devastation this species has
caused there (Woinarski et al. 2015), compassionate conservationists advocate for the
reclassification of feral cats to a native species in Australia (Wallach & Ramp 2015). Others
promote leaving drug-lord Pablo Escobar‘s introduced African hippopotamus population
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(Hippopotamus amphibius ) in Colombia (Dembitzer 2017). The general understanding of
conservation is premised on nativism that native species are of more value to their
ecosystems than non-native species. Nativism and what constitutes a native species is debated
in the literature (Peretti 1998; Simberloff 2012; Wallach et al. 2018a), but there is ample
evidence of the ecological damage caused by non-native species, and they remain a key threat
to biodiversity (Salo et al. 2007).
Another implicit assumption in compassionate conservation recommendations for
invasive animal management is that predation by nonhuman animals on other animals is more
desirable, on ethical grounds, than predation by humans. From the killed animal‘s viewpoint,
however, it is irrelevant who or what the predator is, and only humans show any compassion
for their prey or concern for their welfare (Lewis et al. 2017). The methods used by
professionals to kill animals for conservation purposes will almost always be more humane
and compassionate than the methods used by animals to kill each other (Allen et al. 2019).
Defining conservation
Conservation is the protection of biodiversity from factors that threaten it or the
amelioration of those threats (Soulé 1985). These threats are almost invariably caused by
humans (Hayward 2019). The point of view from which we critique compassionate
conservation is that of scientists and managers devoted to conserving populations of diverse
kinds of animals and plants in the ecosystems to which they have naturally adapted. This
point of view is not shared by advocates of compassionate conservation, and therein lies the
first tension associated with its ethos.
Among the 12 categories of threats to biodiversity of the International Union for
Conservation of Nature are habitat loss or degradation, use, invasive species, human
disturbance, pollution, and persecution (Maxwell et al. 2016). The abatement of these threats
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is the essence of conservation science and involves a range of practices, such as the creation
of protected areas to ameliorate habitat loss and degradation; legislation to stop pollution,
overuse, and persecution; translocations to establish new populations of threatened species
within their historic range; landscape manipulations to facilitate coexistence of susceptible
species and their threats; control and eradication of invasive species; and ex situ practices,
such as captive insurance colonies and genome storage for mitigating permanent species and
genetic loss when threats cannot be abated immediately. Conservationists generally support
these actions because, at times, intervention is required. In the last 30 years, the evolution of
large-scale conservation programs, embedded in a robust scientific framework, has allowed
the development of effective decision-making practices that consider efficacy, animal
welfare, logistics, and cost (Sutherland et al. 2004; Pullin et al. 2013) and have yielded
significant conservation successes (Hoffmann et al. 2010). This is nowhere more obvious
than in invasive species management, given that invasive species have caused vast numbers
of native animal extinctions around the world (Butchart et al. 2010).
Critiquing Compassionate Conservation
Compassionate conservation has been defined as ―a rapidly growing international and
cross-disciplinary movement that promotes the protection of wild animals as individuals
within conservation practice and policy‖ via ―…a conservation ethic that prioritizes the
protection of other animals as individuals: not just as members of populations of species but
valued in their own right(University of Technology Sydney n.d. & Supporting Information).
It is an ethic that combines a number of well explored philosophies, including virtue ethics
(undertaking an action because it is ennobling to do so [MacIntyre 2013]), deontology
(undertaking an action because it is morally correct to do so [Regan 1983]), and
consequentialism or utilitarianism (equal regard for the interests of all individuals irrespective
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of race, creed, sex, and species [Driver 2011]), and takes the view that individual animals are
as valuable as populations or species from a conservation perspective (Singer 1990). This
ethic holds to 4 tenets: first, do no harm; individuals matter; inclusivity of all individuals; and
peaceful coexistence between humans and animals. We considered the implications of these
tenets for conservation practice.
First, Do No Harm
The do-no-harm principle (Supporting Information) is a traditional tenet of medicine
(Hippocratic Oath) that implies medical treatment should be performed only when benefits
outweigh the risk of harm (Shmerling 2015). However, unlike human medicine that focuses
on the health and well-being of an individual patient, conservation is a complex arrangement
of interconnected components in which a decision directed at one portion of an ecosystem
can have large direct and indirect consequences for numerous other parts of the system.
The choices made by conservationists have repercussions throughout biotic
communities, not just for targeted species. For example, doing no harm to introduced feral
cats and European red foxes leads to vast numbers of native Australian fauna suffering and
dying daily, and will ultimately lead to the extinction of many speciesnegative
consequences at both the individual and group levels (Kinnear et al. 2010; Frank et al. 2014).
Doing no harm to eastern grey squirrels, an invasive species in Europe from the United States
and Canada, will increase suffering of red squirrels and likely lead to extirpation of red
squirrels in the United Kingdom and possibly throughout Europe (Shuttleworth et al. 2016).
Doing no harm to feral dogs in the Neotropics will lead to the harm of countless Brazilian
animals (Lessa et al. 2016). Doing no harm to cane toads, which have invaded more than 50
countries around the globe, will lead to continued mortality of numerous predators with
rippling effects through ecosystems on mesopredators and prey via trophic cascades (Doody
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et al. 2017). In these and many other cases, doing no harm results in more harm being done to
more individual animals. Yet stopping the lethal control of invasive mammals, despite the
inordinate amount of suffering they inflict on other animals, is a cardinal concern of
compassionate conservationists (Wallach et al. 2015).
The do-no-harm principle may encourage more apathy than empathy and lead to a do-
nothing approach to conservation (Bercovitch 2018). Therefore, it is important to
acknowledge that the do-nothing option may do greater harm to a larger number of
individuals than doing something that harms a few individuals (e.g., controlling introduced
predators in Australia to reduce the harm to the millions of native animals they kill every day
[Doherty et al. 2017]). These decisions fall into a broader paradigm in which the costs to
individual animals are compared with the likely benefits to populations or species (Vucetich
& Nelson 2007), but this trade-off is not possible under compassionate conservation despite
its being accepted as appropriate by other ethicists (Shermer 2015).
Compassionate conservationists propose alternatives to lethal control, such as fencing
(Fox & Bekoff 2011), yet this introduces further contradictions. Conservation fencing is
designed to separate areas important for biodiversity from factors that threaten the
biodiversity therein (Hayward et al. 2014). However, restricting the free movement of
animals with conservation fences could be construed as harming individuals because they
cannot move wherever they choose to access specific resources or flee predators and
competitors (Fraser & MacRae 2011).
Harm was, is, and always will be, an inescapable part of life on Earth. Food webs
inextricably involve harm - harm by one species to another, directly or indirectly, as all living
things compete for the planet‘s finite resources (Wackernagel et al. 2002). Whether
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conservationists let nature take its course (do nothing) or actively manage nature for
biodiversity conservation, harm cannot be avoided given nature‘s interdependencies.
Individuals matter
Compassionate conservationists often refer to individual animals as wildlife
individuals, entire species or populations of species as wildlife collectives, and individual
animals belonging to wildlife collectives as members of collectives (Wallach et al. 2018a).
Yet to characterize transorganismic levels of biological organization, such as species, as
wildlife collectives rhetorically suggests that species (and other levels of biological
organization, such as biotic communities and ecosystems) are merely aggregates of
individuals. That, however, is not how biologists understand the concepts of species,
communities, and ecosystems. Rather a biological species is a gene pool (expressed by
organisms capable of interbreeding and spawning fertile offspring) and is thus a historic line
of descent evolving through natural selection. Thus, there are clear evolutionary arguments
for species conservation, and more generally biodiversity conservation, because a species
extinction is the termination of a line of descent (Rolston 2012) and the value of communities
and ecosystems is greater than the sum of their parts (Golley 1993; Allen & Hoekstra 2015).
Inclusivity
Inclusivity in compassionate conservation recognizes the intrinsic value of animal
individuals. That is to say, it respects individuals irrespective of their clan (species), status
(population size, conservation status), native or alien heritage, or usefulness (Wallach et al.
2018a). There is a contradiction here in that advocates for compassionate conservation
concede a hierarchy of animal protection by prioritizing a reduction of the suffering of
sentient individuals, their definition of which appears not to include nonmammalian species
(Wallach et al. 2018a). This is a seemingly Orwellian approach, suggesting all animals are
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equal, but some are more equal than others (Orwell 1945). Their current focus on mammalian
taxa exemplifies this contradiction of inclusivity, which is further contradicted by
generalisations that sentience and sapience are prevalent across the animal kingdom
(Wallach et al., 2018, but see Low 2017). The removal of ectoparasites that cause life-
threatening wounds on reintroduced lions (Panthera leo ) by veterinarians (Hayward et al.
2007) seems likely to be acceptable on compassionate grounds because the individual lions
survived. However, the ticks were killed with little compassion, and the lions were harmed
by darting and sedation for tick removal to happen. Conservation has long recognized the
need to avoid prioritizing efforts aimed at large, charismatic species (Amori & Gippoliti
2000), but, to date, the compassion of compassionate conservation appears to prioritize large,
charismatic mammals.
Peaceful coexistence
The tenet peaceful coexistence focuses on the relationship of humans with nonhuman wild
and feral animals and emphasizes the need to reflect on human actions and people‘s ability to
modify these actions, rather than defaulting to interventions that have impacts on wildlife
(Wallach et al. 2018a). Partisans of compassionate conservation advocate for conservation
actions that eliminate or minimize trade-offs between the welfare of the individual animal
and effective conservation of populations and ecosystems. Yet, most conservationists
recognize their actions often require compromises with stakeholders. Traditionally,
stakeholders have often been humans and wildlife. For example, the creation of protected
areas to conserve wildlife may force people out of their homelands, and the strict
enforcement of these protected area boundaries and rules may limit the ability of people to
feed themselves (West et al. 2006; Oommen et al. 2019). Compassionate conservationists
advocate translocating dingoes (Canis lupus dingo ) to control cats and foxes (Wallach et al.
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2015). This is a valid option for some parts of Australia, but it is inconsistent with
compassionate conservations principle of first, do no harm (Bekoff 2010) (Supporting
Information) because dingoes are predators and will inevitably harm both the introduced
predators they are promoted to control and native species (Allen & Fleming 2012; Fleming et
al. 2012), and the translocation of dingoes involves human moral agency and makes actors
responsible for the welfare outcomes of these interventions. It also disregards 2 other
compassionate conservation tenets because it suggests individual cats and foxes do not
matter, and this is not inclusive of those species. So restoring dingoes to an area (Newsome et
al. 2015) will initiate a new level of harm to animals living there and that harm is essential for
the objective of mesopredator suppression to be achieved (Allen et al. 2019).
This position was starkly illustrated in an interview with Arian Wallach from the
Centre for Compassionate Conservation (Marris 2018) in which the case of the Tristan
Albatross (Diomedea dabbenena ) on Gough Island was considered. There, the invasive
house mouse (Mus musculus ) preys on chicks of several critically endangered albatross
species (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePmlPpNND_g), causing immense suffering and
death and driving entire species to extinction (Caravaggi et al. 2019). For Wallach the
principles of compassionate conservation mean the mice may not be poisoned to save the
albatross. Wallach asks, ―What gives us the right to be the gods of Gough Island, to say who
lives and who dies?‖ (quote taken from Marris [2018]). This position (extended in the
interview as a general principle) could lead many conservationists to the conclusion that
whatever compassionate conservation is really about, it is not about conservation (Driscoll &
Watson 2019). Furthermore, this position is not realistically about peaceful coexistence.
Coexistence, peaceful or otherwise, is not possible if one of the species goes extinct. In this
scenario, a peaceful coexistence between the Tristan Albatross and mice would be to support
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albatross survival on Gough Island and let mice continue to occupy the rest of its enormous,
global range.
Potential perverse outcomes
Little in conservation is simple. Prescriptive rules, such as those promoted by compassionate
conservationists may well create perverse outcomes. The marooning of koalas (Phascolarctos
cinereus) on French Island (near Melbourne, Australia) for conservation purposes was
initially a great success; however, they rapidly became overabundant, causing severe
defoliation of food plants (Menkhorst 2008). In the absence of management to control this
overabundance (thereby harming individuals), a greater number of individuals were
inadvertently harmed as they starved to death. Similarly, mass mortality events during
droughts affect kangaroo populations that lack control, such as the 14,500 individuals that
starved to death in Kinchega National Park (Australia) in 1982-1983 (Robertson 1986) and
the multitude that are dying during the current drought in Australia. These animals experience
worse welfare outcomes than those managed by human interventions (Wilson & Edwards
2019). Reinstating natural predation patterns may help (Wallach et al. 2015), but predation
inherently causes harm and will also cause perverse impacts in pastoral zones by harming
livestock (Wilson & Edwards 2019). Conservation that is adaptive and flexible under each
unique situation is likely to deliver greater animal welfare gains than hard and fast rules
driven by emotion or ideology. In response to such concerns, advocates of compassionate
conservation may resort to virtue ethics claiming it is sufficient to manifest the virtue of
compassion by letting the animals interact without human intervention. However, this
dialectic in reasoning ignores the fact that more individuals will be harmed without lethal
control (i.e., fewer individuals die a less painful death if one follows mainstream conservation
practice). Hence, compassionate conservation vacillates between animal-ethic paradigms
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(e.g., Wallach et al. 2018a) and retains vestiges of the more familiar and popular utilitarian
paradigm (notably articulated by Singer [1990]) (e.g., Wallach et al. 2018a). Mainstream
conservation practice already acknowledges individuals matter by recognising that
controlling introduced predators minimizes harm to the greatest number of individuals.
Conclusion
The Centre for Compassionate Conservation is an animal rights group posing as a
scientific conservation organisation (Fleming 2018). Evidence of this is that the primary
members of the centre are key participants in the animal welfare group Voiceless - The
Animal Protection Institute (https://www.voiceless.org.au/about-us). Although there are
important exceptions within animal-protection groups for mainstream conservation actions
(Dubois et al. 2017; RSPCA 2018), these are more of a response to the recognition that many
animal-welfare agencies have historically failed to show the leadership necessary to solve
conservation problems, and in many cases, these agencies have only fuelled conflict (Banks
2005; Vanak & Home 2018) and caused conservation disasters (Brown 1998; Bryce et al.
2011). While the broader principles of compassionate conservation certainly have merit (e.g.,
consideration for animal welfare and the individual), the practical challenges are often
particularly problematic, notably, the concept of the collective or greater good is ignored.
Although compassionate conservationists have begun to target the direct mortality
aspects of conservation, this is an arbitrary position they have selected that could initiate a
slippery slope and challenge other conservation practices, such as inhibiting free animal
movement, forced relocations, forced mating or genetic management, forced contraception or
medication, and introducing one species to disrupt or kill another. It is imperative that
conservation scientists provide information about the impact the compassionate conservation
philosophy could have on biodiversity conservation globally. Without this, society could
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easily embrace the philosophy of compassionate conservation, whereas tried and tested
conservation practices that have allowed threatened species to persist (Hoffmann et al. 2010;
Hoffmann et al. 2011) could lose political and financial support through uninformed and ill-
directed emotion and subsequent public pressure. The compassionate conservation arguments
could sway public opinion by appearing as a viable alternative to existing conservation
methods, yet science shows this is not the case. While mainstream conservationists must
always give animal welfare due consideration, they also need to continue to educate the
public and identify the problems that compassionate conservation will cause to ensure that
this ineffective and ironically inhumane strategy does not eclipse a true philosophy of
conservation in the popular imaginary. A compassionate tail should not wag the conservation
dog.
Acknowledgments
We thank B. Callicott, M. Drew, T. Newsome, A. Cox, G. Baxter, D. Lunney, and D.
Sutherland for their valuable contributions to the ideas and writing of this paper.
Supporting Information
The definition of compassionate conservation from the University of Technology
Sydney‘s Centre for Compassionate Conservation (Appendix S1) is available online. The
authors are solely responsible for the content and functionality of these materials. Queries (other than
absence of the material) should be directed to the corresponding author.
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... These include (i) killing the feral animals in sufficient numbers that they no longer constitute a threat, an approach subject to ethical debate (e.g. Wallach et al., 2018;Hayward et al., 2019), (ii) keeping threatened species in captivity such as in zoos and wildlife parks, which some people also consider unethical (Keulartz, 2015) and (iii) fencing the feral animals out of large areas of threatened species habitat. Containing feral animals within high protective fencing can be perceived as reducing their 'wildness' (Mallon and Price, 2013;Child et al., 2019) and is also debated. ...
... Surprisingly, the WTP for 'killing feral animals' was positive for all species except the cod and the snail with little variation and no negative confidence intervals. This result was surprising given the level of public debate about all of the strategies for reducing the effects of feral species (Wallach et al., 2018;Hayward et al., 2019;Keulartz, 2015;Mallon and Price, 2013;Child et al., 2019). One reason why killing feral animals was valued so highly may be because respondents appreciate co-benefits from such a strategy for other threatened species, or more broadly across society, as demonstrated for cats (Legge et al., 2020). ...
Article
While the imminent extinction of many species is predicted, prevention is expensive, and decision-makers often have to prioritise funding. In democracies, it can be argued that conservation using public funds should be influenced by the values placed on threatened species by the public, and that community views should also affect the conservation management approaches adopted. We conducted on online survey with 2400 respondents from the general Australian public to determine 1) the relative values placed on a diverse set of 12 threatened Australian animal species and 2) whether those values changed with the approach proposed to conserve them. The survey included a contingent valuation and a choice experiment. Three notable findings emerged: 1) respondents were willing to pay $60/year on average for a species (95% confidence interval: $23 to $105) to avoid extinction in the next 20 years based on the contingent valuation, and $29 to $100 based on the choice experiment, 2) respondents were willing to pay to reduce the impact of feral animals on almost all presented threatened species, 3) for few species and respondents, WTP was lower when genetic modification to reduce inbreeding in the remaining population was proposed.
... Some authors even suggest invasive species will be the solution to the ecological crisis (Pearce, 2016). Despite these bold and sometimes polemical claims, several authors have strongly refuted most of the core claims of those denying the negative consequences of invasive species and highlighted the various logical fallacies of critics of invasion biology and invasive species management (Simberloff, 2003;Russell & Blackburn, 2017;Ricciardi & Ryan, 2018a,b;Hayward et al., 2019;Callen et al., 2020), and the implicit and unarticulated values of critics of traditional conservation (Doak et al., 2014;Hamilton, 2015;Baskin, 2015). ...
... Such patterns highlight the reality that 'do-nothing' conservation is a management choice that can still lead to ecological harm, especially in light of concepts of "compassionate conservation" that pushes back against ideas of the lethal control of common invasive speciesespecially birds and mammals (Hayward et al., 2019;Callen et al., 2020). The small-island meadow communities urge us to revisit the idea of stewardship and the role of humans in an ecosystem. ...
Thesis
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The core premise of the Anthropocene is that we have unintentionally altered the earth so much that we have entered a new geological period. One of the most concerning of these unintentional consequences is the widespread movement of species across continents. This movement is causing natural communities to become simpler and more self-similar, a process called biotic homogenization. This thesis explores how much biotic homogenization is occurring and could occur in the future within the flora of the San Juan Island archipelago of Washington State, which is a hotspot of floristic diversity. This thesis addresses five main questions 1) what proportion of the flora are alien species, 2) are rare species disproportionately impacted by alien species, 3) what factors influence the number and distribution of alien species, 4) how much biotic homogenization could occur in the future, and 5) is biotic homogenization occurring now? Currently, alien species comprise between 38 and 47% of the San Juan Island flora, and most alien species present are invasive in other parts of the United States. Invasive species are most common in meadow habitats which also have the greatest number of rare and imperiled species. The most important factors determining the frequency of alien species are residence time, invasiveness, island size, and how impacted the island is by human development. In addition, because most of the alien flora has recently arrived, the future flora could become up to 20% more similar by 2079. Finally, current evidence suggests the most diverse small meadow islands are rapidly losing native species and being mostly colonized by alien species. The synergistic impacts of invasive annual grass, introduced Canada geese, and over-abundant black-tailed deer are hastening this change. However, each island is changing uniquely, currently causing no directional change towards homogenization or differentiation.
... (1985), called hereafter 'traditional conservation' (Table 1)] can be at odds with those who value biodiversity based on human welfare and economic aspects [including 'new conservation' (Kareiva and Marvier 2012)], or with those based on animal welfare ['conservation welfare' (Beausoleil et al. 2018), or, to a certain extent, 'compassionate conservation' (Wallach et al. 2018)]. These issues have been heatedly debated in the literature (Kareiva 2014;Soulé 2014;Doak et al. 2015;Driscoll and Watson 2019;Hayward et al. 2019). In the following, our aim is to conceptualise and decompose value systems in an explicit, and potentially (but not necessarily) quantifiable, fashion using a common mathematical framework, and to explore their repercussions for the perception of conservation management actions by stakeholders with different value systems. ...
... Despite the near-universal support of conservation practitioners and scientists for compassion towards wildlife and ensuring animal welfare (Russell et al. 2016;Hayward et al. 2019;Oommen et al. 2019), compassionate conservation has sparked vigorous responses Driscoll and of compassionate conservation is that the absence of action can result in (often well understood and predictable) detrimental effects and increased suffering for individuals of other or the same species (including humans), as a result of altered biotic interactions across multiple trophic levels, i.e. "not doing anything" is an active choice that has consequences (Table 3). However, since compassionate conservation is not based on consequentialism, it uses different criteria to assess the appropriateness of conservations actions (but see (Wallach et al. 2020) for responses to some criticisms). ...
Article
Full-text available
Perspectives in conservation are based on a variety of value systems. Such differences in how people value nature and its components lead to different evaluations of the morality of conservation goals and approaches, and often underlie disagreements in the formulation and implementation of environmental management policies. Specifically, whether a conservation action (e.g. killing feral cats to reduce predation on bird species threatened with extinction) is viewed as appropriate or not can vary among people with different value systems. Here, we present a conceptual, mathematical framework intended as a tool to systematically explore and clarify core value statements in conservation approaches. Its purpose is to highlight how fundamental differences between these value systems can lead to different prioritizations of available management options and offer a common ground for discourse. The proposed equations decompose the question underlying many controversies around management decisions in conservation: what or who is valued, how, and to what extent? We compare how management decisions would likely be viewed under three idealised value systems: ecocentric conservation, which aims to preserve biodiversity; new conservation, which considers that biodiversity can only be preserved if it benefits humans; and sentientist conservation, which aims at minimising suffering for sentient beings. We illustrate the utility of the framework by applying it to case studies involving invasive alien species, rewilding, and trophy hunting. By making value systems and their consequences in practice explicit, the framework facilitates debates on contested conservation issues, and complements philosophical discursive approaches about moral reasoning. We believe dissecting the core value statements on which conservation decisions are based will provide an additional tool to understand and address conservation conflicts.
... With Hayward et al. (2019), internal consistency reliability refers to the consistency with which a test's results are presented, ensuring that the numerous items measuring the various constructs produce consistent results. The focus groups in this study were given identical questionnaires and same timeframes to gather data. ...
Article
Full-text available
Every sector in the twenty-first century makes use of technology for its activities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and higher education institutions are not exceptional. However, the cohorts enrolled in the selected higher education institution are from technologically challenged backgrounds. This suggests that in their previous schooling, technology was unemployed as a learning aid. As this may present some challenges for such students, this study aims to investigate challenges experienced by Cost Accounting 2 students who are from a technologically disadvantaged background. To accomplish that, a quantitative approach was used since it permits surveys to be delivered to the entire impacted population while also reducing sampling error. Because of the Coronavirus, online questionnaires were sent to 400 students, but only 119 (n=119) responded. Blended learning was found to be an effective technique for learning Cost Accounting 2 since the university provided sufficient information on how to use the system. However, there was a lot of discussion about internet access, learning materials access, and library resource access. Based on the findings, blended learning is excellent for studying Cost Accounting 2 as long as the learning management system is customised such that students can navigate it effortlessly. Management must work with internet service providers to try stabilise internet connectivity in the students’ neighbourhoods. The additional study can be done using a variety of research methods and target other groups of students.
... Exploring media and their animal representations from a creative lens would open space for this crucial work. However, just as detractors of compassionate conservation argue that it is nigh impossible to do no harm to animals (Hayward et al. 2019), assuming media should escape a critical inquiry due to their best intentions would be idealistic. Therefore, I argue for creative/critical animal and media studies (C/CAMS) to maintain a critical perspective as support for exploring alternative pathways for peaceful, earthly coexistence in media. ...
Article
Full-text available
Organisms across the biosphere are experiencing extinction rates so dire that scientists have marked the Anthropocene as the sixth mass extinction in the planet’s history. Accordingly, plants and animals, by and large, are not flourishing on this deathly planet. Yet, perhaps it is possible for these more-than-humans to thrive––to realize eudaimonia, an ancient Greek concept meaning to flourish by living well––when humans reimagine their relationships with the natural world. In this study, I augment critical animal and media studies with creative cultural studies to arrive at creative/critical animal and media studies. Through this framework, I utilize rhetorical criticism to analyze how the documentary My Octopus Teacher reimagines interspecies relations to offer alternative pathways for earthly eudaimonia, a life approach centered on (e)coflourishing. I find the octopus, through its entangled ethos, teaches the human sensitized compassion with a significant result: the more-than-human octopus transfers her animality to the human who evolves to become more-than-human as well. I offer two arguments: first, contemplating earthly eudaimonia through an entangled ethos creates a space for ecological reflection; this space invites audiences to approach the more-than-human world with sensitized compassion and animality; second, analyzing the documentary through a creative/critical animal and media studies lens offers a unique perspective that foregrounds exploring imaginaries for peaceful, earthly coexistence while maintaining a critical focus against speciesism.
... These tensions between individual and collectivist views of nonhuman organisms mirror current ethical debates about "compassionate conservation" 8 (e.g. Wallach et al., 2018;Driscoll and Watson, 2019;Hayward et al., 2019). Compassionate conservation argues for peaceful coexistence between humans and animals and inclusivity of individual animals, calling for conservation practitioners to do no harm. ...
Article
This paper examines the implementation of a white-tailed deer management program in the Blue Hills Reservation outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Drawing on the concepts of biopolitics, we explore how white-tailed deer became an object of concern and ultimately targets of lethal management in this suburban park. Through interviews, document analysis, and observation of public meetings, we examine the changes in and controversy over the presence, perception, and management of deer in the park. We argue that the implementation of the deer management program is only partially explained by the growing numbers of white-tailed deer, and must also be understood in the context of concerns about human health and shifting imaginaries of urban green spaces and global biodiversity. The case illustrates the entanglements of harm and care in the management sub/urban ecosystems and highlights how differences in the ethical and ontological understandings of deer create tensions in efforts to advance multispecies urban planning. ARTICLE HISTORY
... Compassionate Conservation is a virtue ethic in which the morality of actions is determined by the embodiment of a particular virtue, rather than the consequences of the action (Hursthouse & Pettigrove, 2018). The framework has been met with resistance by practicing conservationists and ecologists who find it does not provide specific guidance for the many challenging issues that arise when implementing wildlife management schemes (Brittain et al., 2020;Coghlan & Cardilini, 2021;Rohwer & Marris, 2019) and does not align with the field's primary focus on the outcome of actions (i.e., consequentialist ideals; Ferraro et al., 2021;Hayward et al., 2019;Meyer et al., 2021;Oommen et al., 2019). As such, we offer an alternative approach, which like Compassionate Conservation encourages conservationists to consider individual animals, but is more aligned with consequentialist thinking (Sinnott-Armstrong, 2019) and can provide some prescriptive recommendations for action. ...
Article
Full-text available
The growing field of conservation and wild animal ethics has the potential to guide practitioners facing difficult management decisions. Drawing from previously established rights frameworks, we explore an applied ethic for wildlife managers and conservationists, outlining when there can be ethical justification and moral obligation to intervene with wildlife. To demonstrate the use of this ethical framework, we apply it specifically to the emerging field of behavioral training in wildlife management. We use a series of case studies to illuminate how ecological context is fundamental to ascertain when there is ethical justification for behavioral training under the framework, and conclude with practical considerations for implementation. Our work explains how a rights‐based ethic emerges from both biological principles and fundamental philosophical concepts, and illustrates how it could serve as a useful guideline for wildlife management.
... This includes an increasing appreciation of diverse stakeholder perspectives (i.e. social equity) [9, 10], animal welfare, animal rights, and 'compassionate' conservation [11,12]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Sustainable wildlife harvest is challenging due to the complexity of uncertain social-ecological systems, and diverse stakeholder perspectives of sustainability. In these systems, semi-complex stochastic simulation models can provide heuristics that bridge the gap between highly simplified theoretical models and highly context-specific case-studies. Such heuristics allow for more nuanced recommendations in low-knowledge contexts, and an improved understanding of model sensitivity and transferability to novel contexts. We develop semi-complex Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) models capturing dynamics and variability in ecological processes, monitoring, decision-making, and harvest implementation, under a diverse range of contexts. Results reveal the fundamental challenges of achieving sustainability in wildlife harvest. Environmental contexts were important in determining optimal harvest parameters, but overall, evaluation contexts more strongly influenced perceived outcomes, optimal harvest parameters and optimal harvest strategies. Importantly, simple composite metrics popular in the theoretical literature (e.g. focusing on maximizing yield and population persistence only) often diverged from more holistic composite metrics that include a wider range of population and harvest objectives, and better reflect the trade-offs in real world applied contexts. While adaptive harvest strategies were most frequently preferred, particularly for more complex environmental contexts (e.g. high uncertainty or variability), our simulations map out cases where these heuristics may not hold. Despite not always being the optimal solution, overall adaptive harvest strategies resulted in the least value forgone, and are likely to give the best outcomes under future climatic variability and uncertainty. This demonstrates the potential value of heuristics for guiding applied management.
... For example, necessary changes to Soulé's (1985) normative values and functional postulates for conservation in the 21st century have been highlighted (Kareiva & Marvier, 2012). Yet debate continues to focus largely on the empirical evidence supporting paradigmatic conservation solutions, rather than also addressing the underlying values that drive the debate (e.g., Hayward et al., 2019;Anderson et al., 2019;Wallach et al., 2020). Without broader disciplinary acknowledgement and more robust methodological accounting for the influence of values on research and the management processes it informs, conservation scientists risk exacerbating conflicts and failing to find durable conservation solutions. ...
Article
Conservation issues are often complicated by sociopolitical controversies that reflect competing philosophies and values regarding natural systems, animals, and people. Effective conservation outcomes require managers to engage myriad influences (social, cultural, political, and economic, as well as ecological). The contribution of conservation scientists who generate the information on which solutions rely is constrained if they are unable to acknowledge how personal values and disciplinary paradigms influence their research and conclusions. Conservation challenges involving controversial species provide an opportunity to reflect on the paradigms and value systems that underpin the discipline and practice of conservation science. Recent analyses highlight the ongoing reliance on normative values in conservation. We frame our discussion around controversies over feral horses (Equus ferus caballus) in the Canadian West and New Zealand and suggest that a lack of transparency and reflexivity regarding normative values continues to prevent conservation practitioners from finding resilient conservation solutions. We suggest that growing scrutiny and backlash to many normative conservation objectives necessitates formal reflexivity methods in conservation biology research, similar to those required of researchers in social science disciplines. Moreover, given that much conservation research and action continues to prioritize Western normative values regarding nature and conservation, we suggest that adopting reflexive methods more broadly is an important step toward more socially just research and practice. Formalizing such methods and requiring reflexivity in research will not only encourage reflection on how personal and disciplinary value systems influence conservation work but could more effectively engage people with diverse perspectives and values in conservation and encourage more novel and resilient conservation outcomes, particularly when dealing with controversial species. La Necesidad de la Reflexividad Formal en las Ciencias de la Conservación Los temas de conservación se complican con frecuencia debido a las controversias sociopolíticas que reflejan los valores e ideologías contrapuestos relacionados a los sistemas naturales, los animales y las personas. Los resultados efectivos de conservación requieren de administradores que involucren a un sinfín de influencias (social, cultural, política, económica y ecológica). La contribución de los científicos de la conservación, quienes generan la información a partir de la que dependen las soluciones, se ve restringida si no pueden reconocer cómo los valores personales y los paradigmas disciplinarios influyen en sus investigaciones y conclusiones. Los retos para la conservación que involucran a especies controversiales representan una oportunidad para reflexionar sobre los paradigmas y los sistemas de valores que apuntalan la disciplina y la práctica de las ciencias de la conservación. Los análisis recientes resaltan la continua dependencia en los valores normativos en la conservación. Encuadramos nuestra discusión en torno a las controversias que rodean a los caballos ferales (Equus ferus caballus) en el oeste de Canadá y en Nueva Zelanda y sugerimos que la falta de transparencia y reflexividad con respecto a los valores normativos sigue impidiendo que quienes practican la conservación encuentren soluciones de conservación resilientes. Sugerimos que el incremento en el escrutinio y en las reacciones negativas con respecto a muchos objetivos de la conservación normativa necesita métodos formales de reflexividad en la biología de la conservación, similares a aquellos requeridos para los investigadores de las ciencias sociales. Además, dado que la mayoría de la investigación y de las acciones de conservación siguen priorizando los valores normativos occidentales con respecto a la naturaleza y la conservación, proponemos que la adopción de los métodos reflexivos de manera más generalizada es un paso importante hacia investigaciones y prácticas más socialmente justas. La formalización de dichos métodos y la necesidad de tener reflexividad en la investigación no sólo promoverá la reflexión sobre cómo los sistemas personales y disciplinarios influyen en la conservación, pero también podría involucrar de manera más efectiva a las personas con valores y perspectivas diferentes en la conservación y alentaría a tener resultados de conservación más novedosos y resilientes, particularmente cuando se trabaja con especies controversiales. 保护问题时常因社会政治争论而变得复杂, 这些争论反映了人们关于自然系统、动物和人类相互矛盾的哲学观和价值观。有效的保护成果需要管理者涉及社会、文化、政治、经济以及生态等各方面的影响。如果保护科学家不能认识到个人价值观和学科范式对其研究及结论的影响, 那么基于其提供的信息所获得的解决方案也只能产生有限的贡献。关于争议物种的保护挑战为反思保护科学学科和实践的范式及价值体系提供了机会。近期也有分析强调了保护长期依赖于规范性价值观。本研究围绕加拿大西部和新西兰关于野马 (Equus ferus caballus) 的争议展开讨论, 指出规范性价值观中透明度和自反性的缺失持续阻碍着保护工作者得到有弹性的保护解决方案。我们认为, 目前在保护生物学研究中越来越多的审查和对许多规范性保护目标的抵制, 突显了正式的自反性方法的必要性, 类似于社会科学研究者所用方法。此外, 鉴于许多保护研究和行动仍在优先使用西方关于自然和保护的规范价值观, 我们建议应更广泛地采用自反性方法, 这是朝向更具有社会公正性的研究和实践迈出的重要一步。将这些方法正式化并要求研究考虑自反性, 不仅会鼓励反思个人和学科价值体系如何影响保护工作, 还可以更有效地让具有不同观点和价值观的人参与到保护工作之中, 并鼓励更新颖和更具弹性的保护成果, 尤其是在处理有争议的物种时。【翻译: 胡怡思; 审校: 聂永刚】
... For example, the compassionate conservation movement evolved seeking to prioritize management actions which advocate for the intrinsic value and welfare of individuals (Ramp & Bekoff, 2015;Wallach, Bekoff, Batavia, Nelson, & Ramp, 2018). Although this view has been criticized as a threat to effective conservation (Driscoll & Watson, 2019;Hayward et al., 2019), it seems likely that most would agree that lethal control in the name of biodiversity conservation needs to be supported by strong ecological evidence to be both justifiable and also socially acceptable (Grarock et al., 2014). ...
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