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~Committed to Conservation, Education and the Preservation of our Natural Resources~

"Promoting Science Based Wildlife Management Decisions for a Better Massachusetts"

Caring for Wildlife Ecologicaly Sound Highly Regulated Benefits Common and Abundant THE HIGHEST PRIORITY

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*Information taken with permission from Northeast Furbearer Resources Technical Committee (

Animal Welfare is Paramount

The concept of "Animal Rights" is distinct from the concept of "Animal Welfare." Animal Rights is based on personal values and philosophy, while the agenda for Animal Welfare is based on science. The Animal Rights and Animal Welfare agendas represent entirely different perspectives on human/animal coexistence.

Animal Welfare proponents believe that human use of animals is appropriate as long as practical measures are taken to ensure that human use does not cause any undue pain and suffering to animals. Wildlife biologists and all responsible trappers and hunters are staunch supporters of animal welfare.

Animal Rights proponents oppose any human use of animals because they believe animals have the same rights as humans, and therefore should not be used, eaten or owned by people. The primary concern of Animal Welfare advocates is the well-being of animals. The primary concern of Animal Rights advocates is the moral obligation of people. The well-being of animals is a secondary concern for Animal Rights advocates.

Professional wildlife biologists advocate Animal Welfare. The International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA), noting that "the worldwide growth of the animal rights movement threatens all traditional uses of animals," adopted the following position in 1989:

"The IAFWA acknowledges that humans have an inseparable relationship with all other parts of the natural world. Furthermore, humanity is answerable to another set of laws and concepts that is uniquely a product of human society. Animals cannot be subject to those laws and concepts and therefore do not have the rights of humans. It is agreed, nonetheless, that animal welfare is a realistic and desirable concept which we support. Humanity does have responsibilities to animals: ensure ecological integrity, preserve genetic diversity and sustain species and ecosystems. All animals use other animals for their existence. The responsible human use of animals is natural and appropriate."

Wildlife biologists have concerns about the implications of the Animal Rights philosophy. Human use of, and dependence on, renewable natural resources, including animals, fosters stewardship over those resources. Millions of acres of wildlife habitat have been acquired, protected and managed for wildlife by public and private natural resource management agencies. Much of this has been made possible through funds generated by consumptive users of wildlife who collectively have a stake in the perpetuation of wildlife resources. Under the Animal Rights agenda, there would be no wildlife management, and subsequently, many species of wildlife would decline or become extirpated without the protection afforded by management. Populations of other species could explode, escalating human-wildlife conflicts.

Adaptable and always ready to take advantage of any food sources, raccoons can reach extraordinarily high population levels in developed areas, increasing public health problems, property damage and predation on other wildlife species.

As our society becomes more urban, we become removed from natural systems and the processes that function within them. Our understanding and appreciation of those natural processes diminishes. We no longer have to harvest our own food, and as a result, we do not see the death involved in processing meat or the habitat loss, pesticide use, and death of animals that destroy crops and livestock. We do not witness the habitat destruction involved with the extraction of nonrenewable natural resources that are the basis for most of the synthetic materials we use.

Rural components of our society recognize the high turnover in many wild animal populations that have naturally high death rates. The death of an individual animal is not shocking when one realizes that it is a normal, natural, and regularly occurring event, and that species have adapted reproductive strategies to compensate for these natural losses. These reproductive strategies evolved over millennia under a suite of mortality factors, including human predation. When a human uses a wild animal, that death is not wasted, and an interest in the preservation of the wild animal population is often fostered.

We should all be aware that our lifestyles — regardless of where we live, our economic status, or our degree of "environmental correctness" — are closely and inexorably linked to animals. Animals have always provided the material and spiritual sustenance that maintains us as individuals and societies. Our need and use of them for food, clothing, art, medicine and companionship are eternal, our dependence on them complete. We must continue to support conservation efforts that ensure sustainable use.

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Last modified: June 30, 2012