Ethical Foundations for the Lethal Management of Double-Crested Cormorants (Phalocrocorax auritus) in the Eastern United States: An Argument Analysis

Year: 
2018
Publications Type: 
Journal Article
Publication Number: 
5045
Citation: 

Batavia, Chelsea; Nelson, Michael Paul. 2018. Ethical Foundations for the Lethal Management of Double-Crested Cormorants (Phalocrocorax auritus) in the Eastern United States: An Argument Analysis. Waterbirds. 41(2): 198-207. doi: 10.1675/063.041.0214

Abstract: 

Lethal management of Double-crested Cormorants (Phalocrocorax auritus) has been implemented in many areas of the United States. In this paper, the philosophical method of argument analysis is used to assess ethical premises underlying the proposition that Double-crested Cormorant populations should be culled to reduce pressures on wild fisheries in the Great Lakes region of the eastern USA. This influential argument has been used to justify the destruction of more than half a million Double-crested Cormorants and hundreds of thousands of their nests and eggs. Three versions of the argument are formulated and assessed. It is shown that each of the arguments presupposes some form of anthropocentrism, an ethical stance considered by many in the scholarly community to be philosophically untenable and ethically inappropriate. It is suggested, consequently, that the arguments analyzed do not constitute an ethically sound basis for lethal management of Double-crested Cormorants in the Great Lakes region of the eastern USA.

Keywords: anthropocentrism, argument analysis, Double-crested Cormorant, environmental ethics, human-wildlife conflict, inherent value, lethal management, Phalocrocorax auritus, wildlife management