Animal welfare in predator control: lessons from land and sea. how the management of terrestrial and marine mammals impacts wild animal welfare in human–wildlife conflict scenarios in Europe.
The control of predators, on land and in the sea, is a complex topic. Both marine and terrestrial mammal predators come into conflict with humans in Europe in many ways and yet their situations are rarely compared. Areas of conflict include the predation of livestock and farmed fish, and the perceived competition for wild prey (for example wolves competing with hunters for deer and seals competing with fishermen for salmon). A lethal method (shooting) and non-lethal methods of conflict reduction (including enclosures, guarding, and aversion) used for terrestrial large carnivores (e.g., bear, wolf, wolverine, lynx) and marine mammals (seals) are discussed. Control measures tend to be species- and habitat-specific, although shooting is a widely used method. Potential impacts on predator welfare are described and welfare assessments which have been developed for other wildlife control scenarios, e.g., control of introduced species, are considered for their potential use in assessing predator control. Such assessments should be applied before control methods are chosen so that decisions prioritizing animal welfare can be made. Further work needs to be carried out to achieve appropriate and widely-accepted animal welfare assessment approaches and these should be included in predator management planning. Future research should include further sharing of approaches and information between terrestrial and marine specialists to help ensure that animal welfare is prioritized.