Welfare in the Wild: Welfare Science – Current Understanding and Next Steps to assessment and application

Scientific evaluations of animal welfare could contribute critical information to ethical, legal and political debates about the ways in which humans impact wild animals and their habitats. Increasingly, human activities, influence not only the survival but also the welfare of wild animals. The investigation of animal welfare via rigorous scientific methods (i.e. welfare science) is a relatively recent development, and especially within its
infancy when considering marine mammals. For example, limited scientific literature exists concerning welfare science, with most focused on captive animals. However, as welfare is the balance of positive and negative
affective states, its application to wild animals is both necessary and warranted, especially within the Anthropocene. Naturally, key differences in the approach to measuring wild animal welfare exist, with the primary difficulty being access to the animals themselves. Nevertheless, recent technological advances (e.g. drones) alongside the advent of non-invasive behavioural, physiological and cognitive measures can collectively serve to advance the field of wild welfare assessment. This workshop will review what welfare priorities exist for wild populations and identify what methods/technology/tools are best applied to address matters of welfare in the wild. Furthermore, conservation welfare, the emerging discipline which represents the nexus between the scientific disciplines of animal welfare and conservation, will further be addressed. Here the aim will be to
identify what scientific principles are needed to best inform decision making so as to ensure best conservation objectives are met while also maximizing welfare outcomes for the individual animals involved (e.g. Conservation interventions).


Animal welfare science is the scientific study of the welfare of animals as pets, in zoos, laboratories, on farms
and in the wild. Although animal welfare has been of great concern for many thousands of years in both religion and culture, the investigation of animal welfare using rigorous scientific methods is a relatively recent development. Scientific literature regarding welfare of marine mammals has specifically lagged behind in both discussion and application, especially with respect to wild populations. The aim of this workshop is to address this paucity by investigating current understanding and potential methods/tools which may be applicable to the assessment of wild populations.

Anticipated Outcome

A perspectives paper on welfare science and its application to wild marine mammal populations


Karen Stockin

Isabella Clegg

Location and Time

NH Hotels, via XX Settembre 2, 19124 La Spezia


Workshop will start 12AM and end 5PM