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Unit information: Behaviour, Welfare, Ethics and Law for Wildlife Professionals in 2015/16

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Unit name Behaviour, Welfare, Ethics and Law for Wildlife Professionals
Unit code VETSM0043
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Main
Open unit status Not open

Attendance on VETSMNEW9 - "Biology of Behaviour and Welfare"



School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


The unit is intended to be an introduction to applied animal behaviour, animal welfare science, ethics and law relevant to wildlife management and health. It will include demonstration and consideration of how animal behaviour can be applied to practical problems in wildlife conservation, and how animal welfare science can be applied to tackle health and management problems in captivity. In addition, the students will learn to illustrate and reflect on welfare problems, demonstrating their attitude to wildlife welfare, and their recognition and analysis of ethical and legal dilemmas affecting wildlife health and management worldwide.

The aim of this unit is to enable students to develop an understanding of the practical application of animal behaviour, and of the fundamental concepts of animal welfare science, ethics and law as they relate to global wildlife health and management.

Intended learning outcomes

The student will be able to:

  1. Apply knowledge of animal behaviour to practical problems in wildlife health and management.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the various definitions of animal welfare and a working understanding of the main models of animal welfare.
  3. Explain and critique the methodologies used to measure animal welfare including physiological measurements.
  4. Relate how welfare impact is determined in individuals and groups of captive and free-living wild animals including trade-offs between these levels.
  5. Critically evaluate current methods for improving the welfare of wild animals in captivity
  6. Show understanding of the most widely used ethical frameworks (Five Freedoms and Three Rs) and their application to captive wildlife.
  7. Relate how ethical decisions are made in wildlife management and health, including awareness of stakeholder positions and conflicts.
  8. Demonstrate awareness and broad understanding of professional ethics relevant to wildlife professionals.
  9. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of regulatory law (including how it relates to wild animals) and the role of different parties in this; show awareness of EU law and explain how EU Directives are transposed into UK law.
  10. Give an overview of the principal tenets and remit of anti-cruelty law including the 2006 Animal Welfare Act, and explain the role of the expert witness.
  11. Show an understanding of the concept of ‘duty of care’ as it applies to captive wild animals.

Teaching details

Combination of lectures, seminars, practicals, and self-guided learning.

Assessment Details

All the ILOs will be assessed by a combination of submitted case report (50%) and by end-of-unit written examination (50%).

Case report: Identification, reflection and conclusion on scientific, ethical and legal considerations, dilemmas and/or problems relating to any animal welfare issue in wild animals. This may include discussion of behavioural and practical elements where appropriate. Formative feedback will be provided on the draft plan for the case report.

Reading and References

  • Broom, D. M. and Johnson K. G. 1993. Stress and Animal Welfare. Chapman and Hall, London.
  • Dawkins, M. S. 1981. Animal Suffering: the Science of Animal Welfare. Chapman and Hall, London.
  • Fraser, D; Weary, D M; Pajor, E A; Milligan, B 1997. Scientific Conception of Animal Welfare that Reflects Ethical Concerns. Animal Welfare 6: 187-205.
  • Gosling, L. M. & Sutherland, W. J. 2000. Behaviour and Conservation. Cambridge University Press.Appleby, MC and Hughes BO. 1997. Animals Welfare CAB International. Wallingford, UK
  • Kirkwood, J. Sainsbury, W. & Bennett, P. 1994. Welfare of Free-Living Wild Animals: Methods of Assessment. Animal Welfare 3: 257-273.
  • Kirkwood, J. & Sainsbury, W. 1996. Ethics of Interventions for the Welfare of Free-living Wild Animals. Animal Welfare 5:235-243.
  • Radford, M. 2001. Animal Welfare Law in Britain, Oxford University Press. Oxford.
  • Sainsbury, W. Bennett, P & Kirkwood, J. 1995. The Welfare of Free-Living Wild Animals in Europe: Harm Caused by Human Activities. Animal Welfare 4: 183-206.