Public perceptions of biological control of rabbits in New Zealand: Some ethical and practical issues [Book Review]

Agriculture and Human Values 14 (3):273-282 (1997)

Rabbits are a major vertebrate pest in New Zealand. An application has been made recently to import and release in New Zealand the biological control agent Rabbit Calicivirus Disease. In this paper we discuss the findings from a qualitative study and a national survey of New Zealanders' perceptions of rabbits, rabbit control, and RCD. New Zealanders' position on the introduction of RCD is complex, and includes concern for the rabbit as a sentient individual that deserves a humane death if it is to be killed, appreciation of the environmental and agricultural damage it causes, and skepticism about the information on RCD currently being provided. Because perceptions of biological control include risk perceptions, we draw upon the literature on public perceptions of risk to interpret the results. We also discuss some ethical and practical issues arising from our study. We contend that the complexity of the issues, and the nature of their presentation, requires a public decision-making process involving two-way communication
Keywords Biological control  Ethical issues  Public decision-making  Rabbits  Rabbit Calicivirus Disease
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1007473215360
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