The Wild Animal Welfare Committee (WAWC) is delighted to announce that Kathryn Arnold, Sandra Baker and Alick Simmons have joined the pioneering independent wild animal welfare group.

WAWC chair Dr Pete Goddard said:

“We are delighted to add these three experts to our already strong and varied team. The WAWC is well placed to contribute independent knowledge and advice on issues that affect wild animal welfare - and there are many of them.

“From the Scottish review of foxhunting legislation to the controversial badger cull in England, our input is needed more than ever. In addition to working on these topics, the WAWC is preparing statements about fundamental issues such as the application of the five welfare domains to wildlife management policy. We are also discussing the impact of traps on wild animal welfare and posing questions about the guardianship of reintroduced species in re-wilding projects.

“We urge all the UK administrations to pay greater attention to the welfare of sentient individual wild animals, and to turn to the Committee for assistance. ”

The WAWC is working on a major project reviewing the challenges to wild animal welfare in the UK, based on published research. The first tranche, covering terrestrial wild mammals, was presented at the WAWC conference in November 2016, and the second, covering marine mammals, is due for completion this November.

Dr Kathryn Arnold is a Senior Lecturer in ecology and leads the Ecology and Conservation research group in the Environment Department at the University of York. She studied Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia, UK and received her PhD from the University of Queensland, Australia.

After holding research positions in Australia and the UK, Kate was awarded a prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship. In 2010, she moved from the University of Glasgow to the University of York. Kate has over 20 years of experience in working on the impacts of social and environmental factors on behaviour, stress physiology and reproductive success of animals, particularly birds and fish. In 2014, she edited a special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society on the risks and impacts of pharmaceuticals in the environment on wildlife and ecosystems. The Ecology and Conservation research group is currently investigating the effects of environmental change, including chemical contaminants and habitat management, on ecologically relevant endpoints in vertebrates. This involves integrating ideas and approaches from ecology, conservation physiology and ecotoxicology.

Dr Sandra Baker is the Humane Society Research Fellow and a member of the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU). Her primary research interests relate to the welfare of wild vertebrates, including human-wildlife conflict, wildlife management and wildlife trade issues.

Sandra’s earlier work focused on non-lethal wildlife management methods, including learned and generalised food aversions for managing badgers and foxes, and Conditioned Taste Aversion for protecting egg prey from crows. She also studied attitudes towards, and drivers of, fox hunting with hounds. More recently, Sandra investigated various aspects of mole control, following the 2006 UK ban on strychnine poison, including research on mole damage, the need for mole control, the efficacy and welfare impact of trapping moles, and the opinions and behaviour of farmers and other land managers in relation to the humaneness of mole management methods. Leading on from that, she studied the performance of unregulated spring traps for rats, mice and moles, and possible welfare implications.

Alick Simmons is a veterinarian, naturalist and photographer. After a period in private practice, he followed a 35-year career as a Government veterinarian, latterly as the UK Government's Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer. Alick has had much involvement in public health and disease control policy and extensive practical experience of epidemic livestock disease gained in the UK and overseas.

Alick's lifelong passion is wildlife and, since leaving government service in 2015, he has sought to expand this interest. He is volunteering for the RPSB in Somerset, become deputy chair of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, a trustee of Dorset Wildlife Trust and a member of Oxford University's Animal Care Ethical Review committee. A particular interest is the ethics of wild animal management and welfare. He is devoting more time to photography and is keen to increase the rather modest total of his published photos.

The Committee has expressed its gratitude to founder member Professor Piran White, who has stepped down after serving for two years and continues to supervise the ongoing research project.

The next meeting of the WAWC takes place in Edinburgh on 14 December.