IS IT RIGHT TO KEEP A GREY SQUIRREL IN CAPTIVITY? New UK legislation allows rescue centres to keep, but not to release grey squirrels. Read more about the new legislation here.
The campaign for the right to release continues, but in the meantime, should rescue centres at least apply for a licence to keep? Here are some thoughts on the ethics of captivity.
The main consideration is this: is the captivity in the interests of the individual animal? For example, if the animal is kept to be displayed for people to look at, it is one thing. If the animal is kept because he or she will not survive in the wild, it is another.
Further ethical considerations are (a) basic needs and (b) comparable life.
(a) Are the animals’ basic needs being met, as specified in the Animal Welfare Act 2006 – food, water, vet treatment, freedom from stress and discomfort, freedom to express natural behaviour? These are open to interpretation, especially the natural behaviour part, but the basic guidelines are there.
(b) What is the alternative? If the alternative is to release back into the wild, it is one thing, if it is to kill because release is illegal, it is another.
DUM SPIRO SPERO! (While there is life, there is hope!)