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Book Chapter

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Humane ethics--animal welfare--and animal rights are not incompatible with ecologically sound wildlife stewardship. They are an integral part of it, from treating wildlife for necessary research purposes humanely, to finding humane ways to control the populations of species that are out of balance and thus threatening the viability of other species and the diversity and integrity of the ecosystem. That mistakes may be made in stewardshipmanagement policies is inevitable. It is, for instance, difficult to know if the sudden abundance of one or more species and the dwindling of others is part of the natural process of succession and should be allowed to continue, or if these changes are abnormal and should be corrected. Perhaps the best that can be done with our present knowledge and expertise is to "freeze" many wildlife sanctuaries by endeavoring to maintain optimal species diversity and numbers. Clearly, in any of our actions, we should take the conservative, cautious approach so that if we err we can correct our errors before irreparable harm is done. Wildlife ecologist-conservationists and deep ecologists who are insensitive to legitimate animal rights and welfare concerns need to be confronted. And likewise those animal liberationists who take animal rights philosophy too far and lose sight of the ecological principles of sound stewardship and of the rights and interests and subsistence needs of indigenous peoples.