Animal welfare issues associated with marking wild animals for identification

Identification of wildlife aids biological study and conservation management and usually involves the application of an artificial mark. Marking can affect the animals involved through the act of marking itself, the wearing of the mark and the procedures required for observing the mark. Effects on subject animals include alteration of: appearance; behaviour; interactions with their own or other species; health and fitness; capacity to survive and reproduce; population dynamics; ecological balance and other factors.

Researchers have an ethical and scientific responsibility to select the most appropriate method for marking wild animals, and to employ the most effective and humane ways of applying the chosen mark. The most appropriate method will vary according to the species and population to be marked, the environment, season, research group and other factors. Therefore, wildlife scientists must develop a sound background knowledge of the population under study, and recognise the advantages and disadvantages of different marks and marking procedures for that specific population.

Wildlife scientists need to weigh the anticipated benefits of the research against the probable adverse consequences for the animals. Application of the General Safeguards (outlined in Mellor et al. 2004), together with those safeguards specific to each marking method should help maximise the benefits of marking programmes, while minimising potential animal welfare compromise and other negative effects.

Author Beausoleil, N. J., Mellor, D. J. and Stafford, K. J.
Date 2005-05-02
Year 2005
Secondary title 13th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference
Place published Wellington, NZ
Publisher Landcare Research
Institution Massey University
Pages 198-199
Region NZ
Documents Download paper