Article

Brushes with the Law: A Conservation Scientist’s Perspective on Legal Solutions and Impediments from Scottish Wildcats to African Lions

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Abstract

I suggest here that the requirements for conservation evidence within regulation are cyclical in nature, and I describe the key stages in this cycle of conservation regulation. In particular, I focus on: (1) the type of evidence required (illustrated by the case of water voles disrupted by riverside development), (2) the clarity of evidence in terms of its implications for policy (illustrated by the harrowing case of the endangered Scottish wildcat hybridising with the pestilential feral domestic cat), (3) the actual impact such evidence has in practice (illustrated by the legal confusions arising from the changing taxonomy of protected species), and (4) the role of evidence in assessing regulatory efficacy (which returns us to point 1 in the cycle) (illustrated by evidence of the (in)humaneness of, for example, rodent traps, various instances of wildlife trade, and the efficacy of international conventions). The article concludes with a series of reflections on how conservation researchers might engage with legal experts and practitioners for the benefit of wildlife conservation in the twenty-first century: through transdisciplinary research, ethically informed and actively applied.

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Outbreeding ideas for conservation success - Volume 51 Issue 2 - David W. Macdonald, Guillaume Chapron
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Hybridization with domestic or alien species poses a threat to many species of wild fauna. However, hybridization is not explicitly addressed in the provisions of the principal international legal instruments on nature conservation. This article reviews the relevance, scope and substance of wildlife protection obligations under the Bern Convention on European Wildlife and Natural Habitats and the European Union's Habitats Directive with respect to this issue. The problem of wolf-dog hybridization is singled out as a case study. The article concludes that addressing hybridization through preventive and mitigation measures is in conformity with the obligations of States under the Convention and the Directive, and may indeed be essential in order to comply with these obligations. In the wolf-dog context, this includes dealing with feral and stray dogs and captive hybrids, and removing hybrid animals from the wild. At the same time, it appears that the national prohibitions on the killing and capturing of wolves and other strictly protected species, as prescribed by the Convention and the Directive, also cover free-ranging wolf-dog hybrids and similar hybrids living in the wild. This entails that the removal of such hybrid animals from the wild is subject to the rules concerning derogations from strict protection. These rules, however, do not appear to stand in the way of such removal. The article's central recommendation is for the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention and the European Commission to adopt express guidance concerning hybridization.