Invasive species are often considered to be a major threat to biodiversity, leading conservation biologists to often recommend their complete eradication. Animal rights groups typically categorically oppose killing animals, and their opposition has brought eradication attempts of gray squirrels in northern Italy (Europe) and mute swans in Vermont to a halt. As a result native red squirrels may disappear from Europe and ecosystem-wide impacts are expected to be caused by the swan. In contrast, cooperation between managers and animal rights groups has resulted in a successful control program for feral pigs in Fort Worth, Texas (U.S.A.). The philosophical differences between animal rights and conservation biologists' views make cooperation seem unlikely, yet documented cases of cooperation have been beneficial for both groups. We recommend that managers dealing with invasive species should consult with social scientists and ethicists to gain a better understanding of the implications of some of their policy decisions. In addition, we recommend that animal rights groups do more to support alternatives to lethal control, which are often excluded by economic limitations. Prevention of arrival of invasive species via application of the precautionary principle may be an especially productive avenue for such collaboration because it fits the goals and values of both groups.
- Animal rights
- Introduced species