Animal restoration: Conservation, rehabilitation, and the endangered organism

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Animal restoration: Conservation, rehabilitation, and the endangered organism

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This dissertation is, in essence, an attempt at providing a firmer philosophical grounding for the discipline of conservation biology. It is divided into argument and practice sections, in hopes that a fuller picture of the meaning of conservation biology might be achieved. The first part centers on an analysis of the identity and meaning of biology and conservation, through the traditional philosophical branches of metaphysics and ethics. Questions are posed concerning what constitutes biotic wholes, and the ontological concept of the population is problematized. The conclusion is arrived at that organisms are an appropriate level for conservation concern. An evaluation of the fittingness of killing of animals as a conservation practice is enacted. Small-scale, individual oriented animal welfare ethics is weighed against large scale, supposedly holistic ecological ethics, and a moderate alternative is posited. Several categories and terms commonly used in the ecology and conservation literature are scrutinized, and an original thought experiment is provided as a decision-making exercise. The second part of the work is focused on practices that originate and follow from acceptance of such organism-centrism, most notably including wildlife rehabilitation. A brief history of "rehabbing" is provided, as are summaries of interview transcripts from leading figures in the Minnesota rehab scene. In the final chapter, a description of the qualitative social science method of participant observation is given, as are themes derived from two seasons spent observing and participating at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota (WRC). Field notes and journal entries constituting reflections on time spent at the WRC are offered. In the end, it is concluded that the general theme of the dissertation is of a progression from metaphysician to physician, from thought to action. Moreover, the true potential and appropriate identity of conservation biology as a healing, caring discipline is revealed through a sustained consideration of neglected issues and practices.



University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2013. Major: Conservation Biology. Advisor: David N. Bengston. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 327 pages

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DeVaney, Leif Allan. (2013). Animal restoration: Conservation, rehabilitation, and the endangered organism. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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