Date of Award



Edward Van Buren


The subject of animals’ rights has received a fair amount of attention over the years. Philosophers and activists alike have set out to ensure that animals in the wild and in other settings such as factory farms enjoy at least a bare minimum of rights and protections. While these are undoubtedly noble causes, they do leave a great deal to be desired. Almost always left out of these philosophical and moral debates are animals such as squirrels, pigeons, raccoons and the like – urban wildlife, if you will. Because of our constant exposure to them, or perhaps because they are not exotic, or even tragic to observe, they are often overlooked amidst these disputes. Thanks to this, these creatures often are left out of policy-making decisions, and even certain laws which one would expect to apply to them. Due to their limited legal status, these creatures are often marginalized and have their interests overruled by human populations. As long as they do not enjoy the rights and privileges as other forms of wildlife, it is my fear that this will always be the case. It is due to this lack that I believe a new ethic is needed for dealing with urban wildlife – one which will allow us to more fairly and effectively navigate our conflicts with the nonhuman entities which we share our cities with.