A professional attitude toward humaneness

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The Wildlife Society Bulletin

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The very mention of humaneness brings to our minds the images of Bambi lovers, posy sniffers, bleeding hearts, and Cleveland Amory and the rest of the "Kingdom of the Kind" (Nichols 1976). It brings to mind anti-trapping, anti-hunting, and anti-fishing attitudes. It also reminds us of criticism about the clubbing of seals in Canada, aerial hunting of wolves in Alaska, and trapping of various fur-bearers across the United States.

But we fool ourselves if we ignore the fact that many people critical of the various "blood sports" are sincere and are actually made ill by the thought or sight of an animal suffering (Todd 1980:56). This suffering is the rallying point around which many organizations have placed their banners. We can effectively counter the arguments about depleting the resource, hindering the recovery of endangered species, or problems with the various "slob" segments of our population. Unfortunately, too many professional biologists tend to discount or ignore the concept of pain in animals. It follows, therefore, that a lack of communication and understanding has developed into a rift separating 2 factions that share the same primary goal: the perpetuation of the wildlife resource. Without changes in attitudes this rift may continue to develop into an unbridgeable chasm, with the ultimate loser being the wildlife resource itself. It is the purpose of this paper to present some facts and opinions on the concept of humaneness in relation to the treatment of wild animals.

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