A new Committee dedicated to the promotion of wild animal welfare launches publicly today.
The Wild Animal Welfare Committee (WAWC) has been set up to provide independent advice and evidence about the welfare of free-living wild animals in the UK, aiming to reduce harm to animals and prevent the suffering that can be caused by human activity.
The UK already has a long-standing Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC) (formerly the Farm Animal Welfare Council) and a Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) providing independent advice to government on the welfare of farmed animals and pets.
The WAWC will highlight the importance and value of wild animals and in particular the welfare of the individual; it will disseminate information and commission and publish independent reports on contemporary wild animal welfare issues.
WAWC Chair Dr Pete Goddard said:
“We are placing ever-increasing demands on the natural world for the various benefits it provides, including food, other resources and recreation. As a consequence, the frequency of human interactions with nature and the environment has increased.
“Many of our interactions with wildlife are positive and mutually beneficial, but in some cases, there is a growing occurrence of human-wildlife conflict. As a consequence, free-living wild animals are increasingly managed and sometimes deliberately persecuted. Such situations can cause suffering and compromise animal welfare, yet wildlife welfare is a neglected topic.
“The UK has a long-standing commitment to the welfare of farmed animals and pets, with the FAWC and CAWC providing advice to government on the welfare of livestock and pets respectively. However, there is no equivalent organisation focusing on the welfare of wild animals.”
The WAWC has been set up to provide independent evidence and advice on the welfare of free-living animals in the UK. Using an evidence-based approach, it will seek to promote better treatment of wild animals, reducing harm and preventing suffering that can be caused intentionally or unintentionally by human activities.
One of the Committee’s first projects is a stakeholder survey to gauge support for wild animal welfare and help identify priorities among a wide range of interest groups.
Dr Goddard continued:
“We have already identified a long list of issues where there is a need for more evidence and information, and are now evaluating and prioritising topics so that our work can be effective for the largest number of animals in the shortest possible time.
“All members of the new WAWC are committed to making a difference for wild animal welfare and we are confident that there will be considerable support for this work. Our stakeholder survey is an important first step and we encourage anyone with an interest in wildlife to take part.”
Note to editors
The Members of WAWC are: Ms Sarah Dolman, Mr Chris Draper, Dr Pete Goddard (Chair), Mrs Carol McKenna, Dr Liz Mullineaux, Dr Angus Nurse and Professor Piran White. All members serve in an individual capacity. A secretariat service is provided by the animal protection charity OneKind.