Increased scrutiny of animal welfare in wildlife management has seen a recent proliferation in the use of procedural documents (standard operating procedures, codes of practice etc.). Some procedural documents are presumed to represent ‘best practice’ methods, whereby adherence to prescribed inputs is explicitly purported to generate humane outcomes. However, the relationship between what is done to animals (inputs) and what they experience (outputs), as assessed by animal-based measures, has received little attention. Procedural documents are commonly developed in the absence of empirical animal-based measures, creating uncertainty in animal welfare outcomes. Prescribed procedures are valuable as guidelines for standardising methodology, but the development of ‘welfare standards’ that focus on desired thresholds for animal-based measures offers many advantages for improving animal welfare. Refinement of the use of procedural documents in wildlife management is required to ensure they generate desirable outcomes for animals, and do not preclude the development of improved methods.
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Vol. 43 • No. 7