While reading recent bear events, I found the comment about anthropomorphizing wildlife Mr. Healy made interesting.
I’m not sure why some biologists express concern about attributing “human-like” emotions to wildlife. Denying animals, especially ones with high cognitive ability, have emotions is unrealistic. Nevada bear data listed captured bears by name until 2003. Yellowstone wolves are named by biologists. Dr. Jane Goodall named chimpanzees. Did this diminish her ground-breaking research?
Anyone owning a pet can confirm animals display emotion. Conceding wildlife has “human-like” emotions may make it more difficult to kill a bear or other animal. But shouldn’t it be difficult? Should we allow people to harass animals for sport when it may decrease their fitness?
I work in medicine. Although you look at evidence based on populations, the individual is important. It is difficult to become close to a person and see poor outcomes. But individuals deserve that level of care. Are animals also worthy of moral care? If not, why have we passed animal cruelty laws?
These are questions we should ask ourselves to determine the type of society we want to be. Wildlife professionals should be able to maintain objectivity while still demonstrating empathy for wildlife.