Bringing Compassion to the Ethical Dilemma in Killing Kangaroos for Conservation
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- Ramp, D. Bioethical Inquiry (2013) 10: 267. doi:10.1007/s11673-013-9442-y
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Ethical debate on the killing of kangaroos has polarised conservation and animal welfare science, yet at the heart of these scientific disciplines is the unifying aim of reducing harm to non-human animals. This aim provides the foundation for common ground, culminating in the development of compassionate conservation principles that seek to provide mechanisms for achieving both conservation and welfare goals. However, environmental decision-making is not devoid of human interests, and conservation strategies are commonly employed that suit entrenched positions and commercial gain, rather than valuing the needs of the non-human animals in need of protection. The case study on the wild kangaroo harvest presents just such a dilemma, whereby a conservation strategy is put forward that can only be rationalised by ignoring difficulties in the potential for realising conservation benefits and the considerable welfare cost to kangaroos. Rather than an open debate on the ethics of killing game over livestock, in this response I argue that efforts to bring transparency and objectivity to the public debate have to date been obfuscated by those seeking to maintain entrenched interests. Only by putting aside these interests will debate about the exploitation of wildlife result in humane, compassionate, and substantive conservation benefits.