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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Measuring Humaneness: Can It Be Done, and What Does It Mean If It Can?


Differences over what constitutes humaneness in the control of wildlife have traditionally presented a roadblock to under-standing, not to mention agreement, between animal welfare and wildlife damage management professionals. Complaints that a proposed action or given program is not humane can refer to everything from specific techniques to broader adminis-trative justifications. A number of concepts have been used to describe welfare standards and measurements, and different assessment metrics have been developed in attempts to bring objectivity to what might prove, in the end, to be an intracta-bly subjective domain. Some of the most widely used and serviceable of the concepts intended to operationalize what humaneness is are described and reviewed here. The need for a more accepted and agreeable framework for humaneness is discussed, and designating “humane” as a keyword is proposed as one means by which that framework can better realized.

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