Deer parks are allowed to remain, much to the dismay of animal welfare experts

Deer camp in Medrecht.Image by Raymond Rutting/UK

From July 1 next year, the so-called “pet and hobby list” will be implemented, containing thirty mammals that everyone is allowed to keep. The government wants to put an end to the keeping of wild mammals. Scientists have compiled this list based on research related to animal welfare. Fallow and red deer are missing from the list, in part because they have a strong flight response that does not fit into the relatively small living space allowed as a hobby animal.

But the outgoing minister has now granted a permanent exemption for fallow deer and red deer holders for this “exceptional situation”, the letter to Parliament said. Although they are not listed, they are still allowed to be kept and bred, meaning deer parks can continue to operate. The minister thus ignores scientific advice at the last minute, much to the dismay of animal experts.

“This is a perfect example of how legislation and regulations related to animal law often work,” says Janneke Fink, President of the Dutch Animal Law Association. “In rare cases, there is a majority in favor of tighter regulations, animal fanciers find out what it means for them, form a lobby, and the politician in question runs like a leaf on a tree.”

According to Fink, the letter to Parliament shows that the lobby played an important role here. The minister speaks of “concerns”, especially among deer park owners. The long history of deer parks in the Netherlands, the large number of deer parks in the Netherlands and their social value are presented as arguments for their continued existence. “But these arguments have nothing to do with animal welfare,” Fink says. “It shows that when times of hardship come, the interests of minimal humanity take precedence over the interests of animals.”

See also  Each chimpanzee has their own unique drumming style, which they sometimes don't use on purpose

Educational reference

Animal ethicist Bernice Bovenkirk, who lives near the deer park, also finds the minister’s argument weak. “I can imagine a deer park serving an educational function, because it allows children to learn about wild animal species. But it also sends an educational signal that says: It’s okay to confine animals.”

Bovenkerk, who is affiliated with Wageningen University, points to a change in thinking about animal welfare. For a long time, the focus was mainly on the absence of suffering: as long as animals were not abused and got enough to eat, they would be fine, that was the logic.

But as scientific insights into animals advance, ideas about animal welfare are also taking another step forward. “It turns out that animals have a culture and that they have a preference for who they spend their time with. So it’s not good for their well-being to identify with who they sit behind the fence with.”

According to Fink, Adema’s role demonstrates the need for a separate minister for animal welfare. “It already exists in Flanders. Of course, there must always be a majority in Parliament to implement the plans, but it ensures that the minister is able to defend animal welfare unequivocally.”

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *