Wildlife studies vary in their invasiveness and impact on the animals being studied. In all circumstances, researchers should seek to minimise any negative impact on the welfare of animals involved. Good animal welfare practice for wildlife research is characterised by the same features as laboratory-based research, however different approaches and procedures may be needed for wild animals compared with laboratory-bred animals.
Wildlife research is usually conducted with free-living animals in
their natural habitat or with wild-caught animals in various captive
settings (e.g. laboratory, zoo, aquarium, sanctuary). Rarely, wildlife
species are purpose-bred under laboratory conditions similar to those
used for animal models. Animals should not be taken from their natural
habitat unless animals bred in captivity are unavailable or unsuitable
for the scientific purpose. Taking animals from the wild for scientific
purposes is regulated by legislation.