Editor’s note: This post has originally been posted on 29th May 2018, and has now been updated and republished.
What have cats, cars and wildlife in common? Cats are domesticated companion animals, cars are machines built by humans, and both are able to kill sentient beings when not supervised or controlled. Cars can kill cats and wildlife, and cats can kill wildlife too. Neither of both scenarios is ‘natural’, both are artificial and creations of humans. So what is the impact, and what can be done to keep both, our beloved companion cats and wildlife, safe?
Editor’s note: This post has originally been posted on 12th March 2022, and has now been updated and republished.
So called silent firework displays, which are in fact not silent at all, unless they are replaced by laser shows, are increasingly praised as the ultimate solution when it comes to addressing animal welfare concerns. At the first glance silent fireworks seem to be a logical solution, as reduced noise pollution is addressing one of the best known problems in this context. However, as it is commonly the case, there is the bigger picture to consider, and that is where the controversy starts, at least for people who feel very strongly that fireworks are part of their cherished traditions and well deserved rights, and of course for people, who have some sort of financial interest in the business of producing, selling or using fireworks.
Most people would agree that we should not do any intentional harm to other sentient beings, be it directly or indirectly. Fireworks have a proven negative impact onto our shared environment, and are therefore potentially harming other human and non-human animals, who are unlikely to have given consent to being harmed, neither in the short nor in the long term. This simply means that by using any type of firework, intentional harm is being done to others, which is ethically not justifiable. Therefore we could actually stop at this point, but for the sake of the argument, let us look a bit more in detail into the threats and problems caused by fireworks.
Are corvids cold blooded killers or merely opportunistic scavengers? This is the question we are trying to answer in this blog post. Mainstream media and advertising businesses often have a tendency to present an idyllic and idealised version of farming practices, showcasing for example animals living in picturesque environments. This imagery is employed to evoke positive emotions and create a connection with consumers. It is nothing else than a marketing strategy aimed at promoting the products derived from the use of non-human animals, such as meat or wool, by associating them with positive and wholesome images. Humans have a natural inclination to connect with and appreciate the beauty of animals. The sight of a playful and adorable lamb triggers positive emotions, such as joy and warmth, which does evoke empathy and a sense of compassion.
Bearing this in mind, then it is not surprising that the sight of corvids scavenging on such an innocent being will without a doubt be repulsive for most people, who will immediately sympathise with the victim, and not with the scavenger. Unfortunately, media representations of such wildlife interactions with domesticated non-human animals are commonly very much one-sided, despite the well known fact that it is always essential to consider all nuances and complexities of such interactions.
Media portrayals often focus on dramatic or attention-grabbing stories, which can lead to an exaggerated or sensationalised narrative. While isolated instances of corvid predation on lambs occur, it is essential to keep in mind that wildlife predation is just one among many factors influencing lamb mortality. It is crucial to take scientific research in account, as we will do, when discussing these matters.
We will show the links between mainstream media, their owners and agricultural businesses, and we will demonstrate historical, cultural and psychological background information to explain why a picture of corvids as being coldblooded killers is being painted. We will look into the human psyche, but also at the reality of agricultural businesses.
It has been said that the eyes are windows to the soul. Research has shown that the apertures of our eyes offer a glimpse into the mind. No doubt that this applies to human and non-human animals. The pupil response to cognitive and emotional events occurs on an even smaller scale than the light reflex, but with the right tools this response is measurable.
When we give a human or non-human being moral consideration, then this simply means that we take into account how they will be affected by our actions, omissions, attitudes and decisions. Sentient individuals, regardless of their species, have morally relevant interests in being alive and in not being harmed, and this does not vary according to the fact whether a species is rare or common.
One of the common challenges in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation is to be frequently confronted with the suffering of sentient beings. Rescue and rehabilitation of wild animals does also regularly generate the question of what is an acceptable quality of life. When trying to find an answer to this particular question, one will automatically discover more questions and potential problems. What can be done when the desired level of quality of life is not achievable at all, or at least not within an acceptable time frame? Or, just to name a few of those questions, can the achieved treatment and rehabilitation result be maintained for the rest of the potentially natural life of the animal concerned?