Wednesday, December 23, 2015

In defense of helping the vole

Photo credit: Peter G Trimming via / CC BY
The RSPCA is under fire for providing anesthesia and tooth clipping to a wild vole so it could be re-released into the wild. The argument seems to be that because the animal is short-lived and eaten by predators it should have just be left to suffer or euthanized.

I admit to having a soft spot for voles, which I regularly see on my walk to work. And as a pet rat owner I am partial to rodents in general.  But everyone has their different favorites and squicks when it comes to animals.

And anyway, how do you weight the cost-benefit ration of helping a particular wild animal in distress? From the animal's point of view it has a life. A vole spends the extra time it gets from veterinary treatment having the good and bad life experiences that come with being a vole, and perhaps contributes to the next generation of voles.

To some humans a vole may be a of no value whatsoever, and to some animals it may be just food, but to a vole being a vole is everything.  So I would argue that is it totally valid to have a policy of giving needed care to any wild animal in distress with the capacity for a full recovery. They each have their place and they each experience a life.

After all, if it comes to deciding which animals are "good enough" to help, a totally impartial alien observer might not put humans at the top of the list.

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