Reviewing 2017 and Looking to 2018
As 2017 comes to a close, we have spent the last few months asking ourselves some basic questions—where can we currently have the greatest impact for wild animals, and how do we increase that impact?
In our view, the focus of our work should be primarily on social change. Currently, there are only a handful of viable strategies for reducing wild animal suffering, most of which have unknown consequences or involve widespread depopulation of wild animals. While we aren’t opposed to such far-reaching actions, we do believe some amount of conservatism is needed, especially given the relative lack of knowledge about the experiences of animals and about the kinds of experiences that there are more generally.
So, we took a look at what we’ve done for the last year, and have built a new strategy for the next year, which is more focused on programs and social change research.
2017 in Review
(forthcoming) Why social change should be the primary focus of groups working to reduce wild animal suffering.
While we currently are staffed by one part-time contractor and three volunteers, we have been fundraising in order to both build our research capacity and to develop new programs. Our intention is to keep funds primarily allocated to new programs, and not to paying employees, as our volunteer capacity is high enough to manage the organization for the next year.
We received no quality submissions for our 2017 essay contest, and did not award the prize. Dedicating time to this may have been a waste of resources, and our funding for the contest will likely now be used to a better end.
We believe that it is possible that the essay contest format is not a good enough motivator for people with insight in the area of social change, and if they have insight into the field, they will likely share those thoughts independently of participation in an essay contest.
So What's Next?
New Website and Blog
Within a month we will be launching a new website and blog. Utility Farm was never intended for people outside the movement, but our new site will be. Our focus will be on engaging biologists and other researchers with a goal of growing the body of research on wild animal welfare, and increasing awareness of wild animal issues more broadly. Our hope is that by building a stronger understanding of how animals suffer in nature, we will be able to better address it in the near future. We see this project as capacity building, as opposed to directly affecting animals.
Utility Farm will remain the centralized hub for people in the movement, and will feature research that informs our social change work.
New Video Content
We’ve begun working on new video content on the lives of animals in the wild, with the intention of dispelling myths of what life is like for wild animals. This content will be aimed at people outside the movement.
We intend to continue conducting studies and qualitative research, but to keep our focus on social change.
Experimental Granting / Intervention Programs
We will begin experimenting with granting and intervention programs. Our intention is to use existing nonprofits and influence their activities to reduce suffering in the wild.
We will continue researching the viability and impact of current interventions, such as ongoing wildlife sterilization and vaccination programs in the US.
If you're interested in seeing this project grow, please donate to support our work.