Wild animal welfare is the welfare of non-human animals under natural conditions, and the study of interventions aimed at improving the welfare of these animals.
Wild animals outnumber animals in factory farms by several orders of magnitude. Despite this, the welfare of animals in the wild has received very limited attention. A comprehensive online bibliography in this area lists about fifty publications, most of which are published online or in relatively unknown journals. Wild animal welfare is thus a highly important and neglected focus area.
As of yet, there have been no serious attempts to improve wild animal welfare, perhaps because this appears to have low tractability. However, some in the effective altruism community have argued that tractability is higher than it might first appear. Proposed interventions include advocacy for wild animals and research into potential solutions.
Animal Charity Evaluators (2022) Why wild animals?, Animal Charity Evaluators, February.
An outline of the main considerations for prioritizing wild animal welfare.
Faria, Catia (2022) Animal Ethics in the Wild: Wild Animal Suffering and Intervention in Nature, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Francini, Louis et al. (2020) Timeline of wild-animal suffering, Timelines Wiki, June 16.
Matthews, Dylan (2021) The wild frontier of animal welfare, Vox, April 21.
An engaging overview of recent developments in the field of wild animal welfare, with a focus on Wild Animal Initiative.
McMahan, Jeff (2010) The meat eaters, The New York Times, September 19.
Ng, Yew-Kwang (1995) Towards welfare biology: evolutionary economics of animal consciousness and suffering, Biology and Philosophy, vol. 10, pp. 255–285.
Spurgeon, Jamie (2022) Helping wild animals, Giving What We Can.
Stafforini, Pablo (2016) Wild animal welfare: a bibliography, Pablo Stafforini’s Blog, June 6 (updated 28 April 2021).
A somewhat outdated bibliography of publications on wild animal welfare.
Tomasik, Brian (2019) How many wild animals are there?, Brian Tomasik’s Blog, August 7.
Stafforini, Pablo (2016) Wild animal welfare: a bibliography, Pablo Stafforini’s Blog, June 6.
Tomasik, Brian (2015) The importance of wild-animal suffering, Relations, vol. 3, pp. 133-152.
Dickens, Michael (2016) The myth that reducing wild animal suffering is intractable, Philosophical Multicore, April 22.
Knutsson, Simon (2016) Reducing suffering among invertebrates such as insects, policy paper by Sentience Politics.