A moose with its tail missing in Minnesota sparked a debate that has been slowly boiling since the advent of social media and social media’s interaction with wildlife.
Another debate was ignited when a baby eagle’s wing was broken. The eagle’s nest was broadcasted to thousands of people all over the world and many people viewing the broadcast created an outcry when nothing was being done to help the baby eagle.
Lori Naumann of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said, “Social media had a big impact on our decision-making process,” she added, “… My phone blew up. My email blew up.”
With the public pressing about the baby eagle, it was taken to the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota. There the eaglet was diagnosed with a systemic infection along with the broken wing and the veterinarians there had no choice but to euthanize it after it was clear the eaglet could not survive or live pain-free.
“It started with a little bit of concern and then it just grew into almost violence. I had to delete a few posts and block some people from our page,” Naumann explained.
The range of opinions on animal suffering and wildlife intervention is wide. Many scientists agree that it is necessary to intervene when humans cause animal suffering. It seems social media is dictating how animals are treated for the time being.
Almost countering social media, however, is the work some scholars are writing on reducing suffering. Richard Dawkins, emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, writes, “The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease.”
The essays produced on reducing the suffering of animals seek to promote the awareness of all wildlife issues. The researchers attempt to treat animals the same way they treat humans in regard to diseases, starvation and violence. They hope to be able to use emotion to reduce the suffering of animals but, they do not want emotion to be the only guiding force.