Back in early 2019 I attended a conference in Edinburgh organised by the charity Wild Animal Welfare Committee or WAWC which was discussing broad issues around the central theme of ‘Who are the Guardians of Wild Animal Welfare?‘. WAWC is an independent group providing an evidence base for evaluating, monitoring, assessing and improving decisions affecting the welfare of free-living wild animals in the UK, and I found their conference and the topics being discussed absolutely fascinating. It was as if speaker after speaker had been thinking about exactly the same issues that I was interested in – but had done so far more intelligently and cogently than I had so far managed. I came away enthused, and what I learned has formed part of the narrative that underpins the thinking here on the War on Wildlife Project website ever since – our series of articles on Language Matters, for example, is based very much on that 2019 conference.
Two years later – on April 19th – WAWC will be regrouping for another conference, which because of the pandemic will be entirely online. That means almost no limit on the numbers of delegates, and guest speakers from all around the world. The central theme this time around is ‘Wild Animal Welfare: Does it matter? Can it be assessed? How can it be optimised?‘. Which is right up my street! I contacted WAWC and asked if we could do a preview podcast – both because I wanted to learn more about was planned, and because it might hopefully inspire a few more registrations for what I am sure will be a really worthwhile day.
Up stepped Dr Pete Goddard, a distinguished veterinary surgeon with a particular interest in animal welfare, a WAWC Trustee and the conference chair. In the podcast below we look at the range of topics that will be discussed at the upcoming conference, rewilding, mammoths, and what Pete hopes online meetings like these might achieve.
I begin though by asking him when WAWC had begun thinking about taking everything online and what challenges that had presented…
“…often we’re controlling one animal species to influence the life of another…it’s a bit like we’re designing the world around us…there’s hardly a wildlife species anywhere that’s not subject to some sort of human impact…”
Dr Pete Goddard | Previewing the WAWC Conference 2021
For more information and booking details please see the initial programme on WAWC’s Resources page.
You can register here for the conference.
Many thanks to Dr Pete Goddard B.Vet.Med., PhD, Dip.ECSRHM, Dip.ECAWBM, MRCVS
- Dr Pete Goddard is a veterinary surgeon with a particular interest in animal welfare focusing on welfare in ruminants under extensive systems of management, and the health and welfare of wild and semi-managed animals. Pete worked at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen where he headed the Institute’s Ecological Sciences Group and is now an Emeritus Fellow at the Institute. He has published more than 70 scientific papers and has authored 9 book chapters, including contributions to Veterinary Ethics: Navigating Tough Cases, edited by Siobhan Mullan and Anne Fawcett. For many years he was a member of the Editorial Board of Applied Animal Behaviour Science. He is a Diplomate of the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine (Welfare Science, Ethics and Law). For two years he was chair of the Animal Welfare Science Ethics and Law Veterinary Association (AWSELVA) and for 6 years he was a trustee of the Animal Welfare Foundation and remains on their funding committee. For the past three years he has been a member of the project advisory group of UNISECO, a major European project investigating agroecological farming systems. In February 2020, Pete was appointed to the new Scottish Animal Welfare Commission.
Header image. Mountain Hare by Alick Simmons (WAWC member) and used with permission
Disclaimer: I’d like to make clear that no fees were asked for or accepted for making this podcast and, yes, I have paid for my own ticket to the conference – I simply like what the Wild Animal Welfare Committee stands for and hope listeners might find it useful.