Ethics of Vertebrate Pest Control

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Ethical Dilemma: Using Toxic Control or Other Means
A pest can be defined as an organism that causes, or is perceived to cause, or is likely to cause economic or aesthetic damage to humans or their property. Some usual pests can be rats or gophers and aphids or leafhoppers. Vertebrate pests include any vertebrate, native or introduced, domestic or wild, which affects human health, well-being, or conflicts in some way with human activities, for example rats, rabbits, and gophers. It's estimated that 42% of the world’s foods supply is wasted due to pests destroying agricultural crops. The assessment of what is and what is not a cruel or inhumane way to treat animals is a contentious issue. Many animal rights activists are very vocal in their belief that animals are more valuable or at least equally important as and to humans. There is little to no compromise in their overall view that the use of animals for food, fiber, teaching, research and testing does not result in improvements for other animals or societal needs. When killing is involved in vertebrate pest control, these activities can elicit strong emotional responses from people concerned with animal suffering. Today's activists are well very well prepared and very articulate in getting their views across to the public using the media, press and television. What most activists don’t know is that there are other issues that are involved in this “hot topic”, other than animal rights. Zoonoses are diseases that can be spread from animals to humans, for example malaria through mosquitos or Lyme disease through ticks; these risks run high when vertebrate pests are involved in agriculture commodities. For example, wild dogs pose a hydatid tapeworm risk, which can give rise to hydatid disease in both cattle and humans. Feral pigs can transmit leptospirosis, salmonella, brucellosis, and Q-fever, and have the potential to host diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease; all these diseases affecting humans as well as...
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