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The Science, Ethics, and Philosophy of Tooth Extractions from Live-captured White-tailed Deer: a response to Festa-Bianchet et al. (2002)


More than 90% of 343 live-captured white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) from which I extracted canines (Incisor 4) survived >1 year, suggesting that the procedure had no long-term survival effects (Nelson 2001). Festa-Bianchet et al. (2002) challenged this as insufficient evidence of no harmful effects. They called for a more detailed age-specific comparison between deer with intact and extracted incisors before they could accept the procedure. In addition to challenging my evidence, they further judged that tooth extraction from live ungulates was an unethical practice and should not be done. In the spirit of advancing wildlife science, I first answer their challenge to my findings by providing some of the additional information and analysis they requested. I secondly rebut their characterization that tooth extraction is an unethical practice and discuss why their view should be taken as only an expression of their personal philosophy on how to conduct research on animals rather than as some consensus among biologists.
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