How would citizen science involving direct interaction with wildlife be regulated?
This article describes the current regulations and questions on how best to regulate the capture and handling of wild animals by citizen scientists in order to ensure that it is undertaken in an ethical manner. The discussion draws on qualitative social science research and stakeholder consultation with researchers, citizen scientists and regulators in the UK. Three steps that could be taken to promote conversations about the regulation of wildlife-focussed citizen science within and beyond the UK are described. These are (1) taking stock of current wildlife-focussed citizen science in terms of numbers of animals studied and harms to their welfare, (2) assessing the state of formal regulations and consider reforms and (3) considering informal regulations as alternatives or additions to formal regulations. These suggestions are ways to encourage conversations amongst citizen science communities and regulators about ethics and regulation in citizen science, which is important for promoting best practice and animal welfare in the field.