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Wildlife Ethics and Practice: Why We Need to Change the Way We Talk About ‘Invasive Species’

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Meera Inglis



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This article calls for an end to the use of the term ‘invasive species’, both in the scientific and public discourse on wildlife conservation. There are two broad reasons for this: the first problem with the invasive species narrative is that this demonisation of ‘invasives’ is morally wrong, particularly because it usually results in the unjust killing of the animals in question. Following on from this, the second problem is that the narrative is also incoherent, both from scientific and philosophical perspectives. At the heart of both of these issues is the problem that the invasive species narrative oversimplifies what are in fact very complex biological processes. As a result, the policies carried out with the stated aim of ‘controlling’ these animals are often unethical. In light of the current global species decline, this article asserts that the way we think and talk about these animals should be changed and the term ‘invasive species’ should be discontinued, in the hope that this leads to changes in practice.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Inglis MI

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

Year: 2020

Volume: 33

Pages: 299-313

Print publication date: 08/04/2020

Online publication date: 07/03/2020

Acceptance date: 22/02/2020

Date deposited: 19/03/2020

ISSN (print): 1187-7863

ISSN (electronic): 1573-322X

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s10806-020-09825-0


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