Weighing Wildlife Welfare

The position of animals in the wild and the form in which society should organise responsibility for their welfare is a topic of frequent public discourse in the Netherlands, whether it be a wolf roaming into our country from across the eastern border, an eagle owl that sets its sights on passers-by or meadow birds that sparsely get their chicks raised. It is, however, not always clear if and how we should intervene and what the specific course of action should be, as a variety of interests and values may be at play.

Image: ©RDA

Assessment framework

At present, assessments regarding animals in nature make little explicit mention of the welfare (including the health) of animals. The Council recommends that assessments and decisions on animals in nature should clearly outline how they take animal welfare into account. In 2012, the RDA published an assessment framework to serve as a policy guide to shape the moral responsibility for the welfare of non-captive animals in practice: Duty of Care, Naturally. Given the very broad scope of both animal welfare policy and nature conservation policy, the Council deemed it advisable to study the practical applicability of the assessment framework for several animal species. This endeavor yielded a number of recommendations to the State and provinces, that can be found in the adivsory report Weighing Wildlife Welfare.