Most of our researchresearch we have funded, and resources we provide advocates have been related to helping farmed animals. We consider addressing the suffering caused by industrial animal agriculture to be a high-impact cause area based on the scale, tractability, and neglectedness framework:

  • Scale: We estimate that the total number of vertebrates killed for human consumption in the world in 2018 was about 772 billion.
  • Tractability: Organizations and individual advocates around the world have been making progress for farmed animals—for example, see Open Philanthropy’s “Seven Big Wins for Farm Animals in 2020.”
  • Neglectedness: Although we’ve seen an increase in resources going to farmed animal advocacy in the last decade or so, a much greater portion of animal advocacy resources is still going toward causes involving many fewer animals (e.g., companion animals in shelters and animals used for research in labs).

As early as 2015, ACE has included reducing wild animal suffering as a high-priority cause area based on the same framework:

  • Scale: We estimate that there are at least 13 times as many vertebrate wild animals (1013) as there are vertebrate farmed animals. If we give some credence to invertebrates’ sentience or capacity to suffer, the number of wild animals we should be concerned about is much higher.
  • Tractability: It is not currently possible for us to have a good sense of the tractability of work to improve wild animal welfare because the field is still in its infancy. However, WAI suggests three possible approaches that seem likely to be tractable in the future: (i) make existing interactions more humane, (ii) reduce disease, and (iii) provide better habitat.1 Humans are already addressing some wild animal welfare concerns, especially where those concerns intersect with risks to humans. For example, oral vaccines were used to successfully eradicate rabies in most of Europe, and deer populations are sometimes controlled with an immunocontraception vaccine.
  • Neglectedness: We know of very few organizations putting any resources into improving wild animal welfare, and while there are a greater number of resources going to conservation efforts, work in that area typically does not prioritize individual animals’ welfare over the preservation of natural habitats and certain species.

The case for addressing wild animal suffering has been made by prominent economistsphilosophers, and effective altruists. ACE has also hosted blog posts (201520182019), conducted research, and funded research on the topic. However, because wild animal welfare was—and still is—a relatively new field with very few organizations in the early stages of their development, it was only in the last several years, after seeing some progress being made, that we became more confident in supporting the cause area through our programs. We supported WAI with Movement Grants in November 2019 and July 2020, then we recommended them as a Top Charity in November 2020.

Read the full article about wild animal welfare by Gina Stuessy at Animal Charity Evaluators.