Researchers hope to stimulate dialogue on animal welfare issues

Two internationally recognized researchers with a life-long interest
in animals have been appointed to lead the University of British
Columbia’s new Animal Welfare Program.

Prof. David Fraser and Assoc. Prof. Dan Weary will investigate
topics such as the way living conditions affect the well-being of
animals, and ethical issues surrounding the use of animals in scientific
research, sport, and food production.

“As educators, we hope to stimulate dialogue on animal welfare
issues and bring facts and knowledge about animals to the debate,”
says Fraser. “As researchers, we will look for solutions to animal
welfare problems that are good for animals, and good for society.”

The $1.8-million Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
(NSERC) Industrial Research Chairs in Animal Welfare, to which Fraser
and Weary have been appointed, were created with the support of
a range of groups with strong ties to animal welfare issues. The
B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (B.C. SPCA)
and the B.C. Veterinary Medical Association joined forces with numerous
animal agriculture groups to provide funding for the program. NSERC
matched their donations.

“The broad-based support behind the positions is unique in the
Canadian animal welfare research community,” Fraser says.

The chairholders, who hold cross appointments with UBC’s Dept.
of Animal Science and Centre for Applied Ethics, will work closely
with the UBC Animal Care Centre, with animal scientists in dairy,
beef, poultry, aquaculture and other animal industries, and with
biological and medical researchers.

“NSERC’s commitment of more than $800,000 indicates the seriousness
with which we consider animal research issues. We want to ensure
that animal research meets the highest ethical standards,” says
NSERC President Tom Brzustowski.

Both Fraser and Weary are new to UBC. Fraser’s research has led
to innovations ranging from better pig pens to ways of reducing
highway accidents involving wildlife. Weary’s research includes
the use of vocalizations and other behaviours as indicators of animal

Biographical Information

David Fraser, Professor, NSERC Industrial Research Chair in
Animal Welfare

David Fraser has had a lifelong interest in both animals and agriculture.

He grew up on a farm in the Niagara Peninsula in central Canada,
and studied animal behaviour at the universities of Toronto (BA,
Psychology) and Glasgow (PhD, Zoology). From 1971 to 1975 he was
on the staff of the University of Edinburgh conducting research
on the behaviour and management of farm animals. From 1975 to 1981
he worked in wildlife research, specializing in the behaviour and
management of moose. From 1981 to 1997 he was a research scientist
at the Canadian government’s Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa
where he worked on behaviour, management and animal welfare problems
of pigs and other farm animals, focusing especially on the needs
of mothers and newborns.

Prof. Fraser has written over 100 articles and a similar number
of book chapters and popular articles on the behaviour, welfare
and management of animals. He has also lectured widely on those
topics and organized a number of related conferences.

Dan Weary, Associate Professor, NSERC Industrial Research Chair
in Animal Welfare

As a child, Dan Weary was fascinated by the lives of animals. Now,
at the age of 34, he has yet to grow out of this first love.

His formal studies on the behaviour of animals began with undergraduate
work at McGill University (BSc, 1984). He went on to do his master’s
degree (MSc, McGill University, 1985), doctoral (DPhil, Oxford University,
1988), and post-doctoral studies (McGill, Queen’s and Concordia
universities, 1989-1992) focusing especially on the vocal behaviour
of wild birds and mammals.

In 1992, Weary joined Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a research
scientist. There he started his basic research on how vocal and
other behaviour of pigs can provide us with information about an
animal’s physical and emotional state, and went on to use these
measures in looking for better ways of weaning piglets and reducing
pain caused by management procedures. He has also worked on more
applied issues, such as how the design of pens affects the crushing
of young piglets by the sow.

As part of his work at UBC, he plans to develop animal housing
and management methods based on the needs and preferences of the
animals and the people who work with them, and to develop new tools
to assess animal stress and well-being.

Weary has published widely and frequently presents his research
to scientific and general audiences. He is a member of the editorial
board for the Journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science,
and a member of Canada’s Expert Committee on Farm Animal Behaviour
and Welfare.