Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



In recent years, much has been made of the differences between animal protection/welfare/rights and conservation. In simplistic terms, the difference is said to be between a view of wild animals as individuals and as populations. Some conservationists claim to see it as a waste to devote time and energy to ensuring the survival and health of individual animals. Conversely, others seem to take the view that the health and welfare of the individual animal is of highest importance.

But like many other discussions based on philosophical differences between largely compatible philosophies, the differences are far more apparent than real-and differences are often meaningless or fleeting, particularly at the day-to-day, real world level. First, many issues arise which should be of common interest to all of our professions, and upon which philosophical differences simply have no bearing. Furthermore, philosophical views, no matter how strongly held, are hardly static. Those held by individuals, like the aggregate views of society at large, change. They pulsate; they move: sometimes slightly, sometimes perceptibly; they swing like a pendulum or they trek over long periods in a reasonably predictable direction. For example, my views on a variety of animal welfare, animal rights, and ecological/conservation issues have changed over the years. I have no doubt that many of you have experienced changes in your attitudes as well. These changes mark us as vital, healthy people, that can accept change outside and inside ourselves.


Paper presented at the Joint Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Wildlife Society, April 18, 1986, Seven Springs, PA.