Our Strategic Plan, 2019-2020
Today, Wild Animal Initiative released its strategic plan for 2019 and 2020. While the full plan can be found here, we wanted to provide some top level highlights of what we will focus on, and how we envision the future of advocating to improve wild animal welfare.
Our work will be anchored around three pillars — conducting academic outreach to build the field of welfare biology, foundational research to help inform and prioritize early welfare biology projects, and near-term intervention research as proof of concept of our ability to improve wild animal welfare. We will also work on some urgent and understudied areas in the space, such as developing a public policy advocacy approach to gene-drive regulation that will protect the interests of wild animals in the long run (and our ability to improve their wellbeing), and social change research, especially on effective messaging for advocating for wild animals.
Programmatic Logic Model
Currently, we are in the process of hiring an expanded research team (in addition to Hollis Howe, Ari Benjamin, and Abraham Rowe), with backgrounds in biology, ecology, and natural resource conservation. We’ve shifted our focus away from direct welfare research, as we believe that academic outreach will lead to higher quality welfare research published on more influential platforms in the long run. Below are briefs of our focus areas, and the full strategic plan can be found here.
In order to develop scalable techniques to improve the welfare of wild animals, we need to develop an academic field of welfare biology. Our current strategy is to work with early career academics to promote welfare biology from within the fields of biology, ecology, and natural resource conservation.
Foundational and Prioritization Research
As we build the field, we also need to determine the highest priorities for early welfare biology research. We see our research as providing support for the emergent field of welfare biology, lowering barriers to entry and providing a strong sense of direction for early studies. We will work to develop literature libraries and tools to facilitate and reduce the cost of future welfare biology research. We will also research regulatory policy for genetic engineering technologies to help ensure that these technologies can be used to improve the welfare of wild animals in the future.
Gene Drive Public Policy
Near Term Interventions
Of course, there are wild animals that are suffering right now. We need tractable projects that reduce wild animal suffering in the near future, both to understand how interventions can be implemented effectively in the long run, and to actually improve wild animal welfare. In the next year, our focus will be on studying the cost-effectiveness of methods to reduce outdoor cat predation, and conducting the foundational research necessary to advocate for less painful insecticides.
Broadly, we pursue public outreach to raise awareness of the issues facing wild animals through two platforms — Nature Ethics and a podcast. We also study effective messaging on wild animal issues. Currently, these projects are funded through restricted funds raised in 2018, and further donations will not support these efforts until we complete evaluations of our work in Q2 2019.
Wild Animal Welfare Podcast