The Ethics of Killing Invasive Animals in Ecological Restoration
In many conservation decisions, there is disagreement over which animals should be managed through lethal control. These disagreements seemingly stem from different justifications for killing invasive animals. This study examines those justifications through the discipline of ethics, which provides a systematic way to analyse normative arguments. In this thesis, I introduce three ethical theories along with one philosopher’s set of ‘natural values,’ through which different justifications for killing invasive animals can be understood. I demonstrate that cultural input plays an important role in these justifications for killing invasive animals, and I conduct a case study to understand cultural input in one scenario. The case study research question I address is, “What is invasive predator eradication on Stewart Island for?” In the case study, I use Q methodology to analyse the viewpoints of stakeholders involved in the proposed eradication of invasive predators from Stewart Island, New Zealand. Through this analysis, I find four key viewpoints regarding the justification for eradicating invasive predators from the island. The Environmentalism Viewpoint values biodiversity and ecosystem health most highly; the Local Community Viewpoint places the most emphasis on the local community and its resources; the Restoration Viewpoint focuses on the duty to restore ecosystems; and the Scepticism Viewpoint is sceptical of the necessity to eradicate invasive predators. While analysing these viewpoints in the context of the ethical theories presented in this thesis, I demonstrate that none of these viewpoints align neatly with any one of the ethical theories – all of the viewpoints borrow components from multiple theories. In addition, I show that all four viewpoints found in this study agree that biodiversity and service are the most important considerations in invasive predator eradication. Ultimately, when answering, “What is invasive predator eradication on Stewart Island for?”, biodiversity and service provide an answer to my research question.
Advisor: Maclaurin, James; Stephenson, Janet; Seddon, Philip
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Philosophy
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Ethics; Invasive; Q Methodology; Stewart Island; Ecological Restoration
Research Type: Thesis