I am Alexandre from the French association PAZ. Our association is dedicated to acting for animals by seeking concrete progress. We have various campaigns: end of wild animals in circuses, end of live fishing, awareness campaigns... We also chose to act for the so-called “liminal” animals following the book Zoopolis by Sue Donaldson and Will Kimlicka: liminal animals are those animals that are neither wild nor domesticated and that live in human spaces, near us. Pigeons, rats or rabbits are thus liminal animals at our side.
We have a strong understanding of the issues of effective altruism and wish to strive for the greatest effectiveness in our areas of expertise. We believe that when considering liminal animals, the number of animals involved, particularly rats and fish, merits attention in discovering the best ways to act on their behalf. For example, we would like to launch a campaign for rats in Paris, whose numbers are estimated to be in the millions. The Paris City Council is engaged in a fight against rats and uses anticoagulants that cause internal bleeding or alcohol traps in which the rats drown to control their populations.
We would like to act, because we believe we have established strong links with politicians: some of them are likely to want to act in favor of rats. We got a large media coverage about rats suffering. And according to our Paris inhabitants polls, 61% want non letal solutions for rats. Unfortunately, we are blocked by a lack of knowledge: we do not know precisely how many rats there are and what non-lethal methods of rat population control could be used.
We would like to highlight effective non-lethal methods:
- we should act upstream, in the urban space, by limiting reproduction. We would like to have an estimate of the cost of surgical contraception (it doesn’t seem cost-effective a priori but we would like to have an estimate in order to decide). We would like to know if an oral contraceptive exists and if it is effective in an urban space, where rats are likely to eat anything other than what the contraceptives are encapsulated in. We would like to know the differences in impact whether the rat is a female or a male, the environmental consequences the contraceptive could have via urine, and better define the regulatory issues. For example, hormone-based contraceptives, such as Contrapest, are banned in Europe.
- Urban planning should also be addressed: which garbage cans can limit access to waste, which plants in parks and gardens could have an impact...
We would like to discuss the opportunity to obtain this information by financing scientific research. We do not have the scientific knowledge, the experience in conducting scientific research, or the funds to do it: it seems like a daunting task and we are not the best people to do it. However, we would like to initiate a process of reflection on the opportunity of research on these issues. If there are several million rats in Paris, then it seems reasonable to think that there are billions of rats in cities around the world. Such research seems promising.
I would like to get your opinion on this problem, on its tractability and on possible next steps. I will be at the EA Global: feel free to come and see me or contact me on Swapcard.
Campaign Manager – PAZ
alexandre [at] zoopolis.fr