Anja Heister

Year of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Individualized Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program

Department or School/College

Interdisciplinary Studies Program

Committee Chair

Daniel T. Spencer

Commitee Members

James Burchfield, Jeffrey Gritzner, Lee Metzgar, Deborah Slicer


University of Montana


This dissertation critically analyzes the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation's use of ethics and science with a particular focus on its sanctioned recreational and commercial furbearer trapping programs. My hypothesis is that the Model's use of ethics and science grounded in utilitarianism with a strong anthropocentric stance and instrumental attitude toward other animals is ethically unjustified and not supported by the contemporary body of scientific knowledge. Three societal changes that have occurred highlight the need for a new model in furbearer conservation, 1) public valuation toward wild animals is changing from utilitarianism to mutualism; 2) consensus exists in nature ethics that other animals are subjects with interests, needs and morality; and 3) scientific advancements have been made that show that similarities among the species outweigh the differences. Thus, exploitation of other animals, specifically trapping wild animals for their fur, is no longer tenable. I propose a new model of compassionate conservation that is guided by the trans-species perspective and grounded in equality between the nonhuman and human species.

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