Would it be considered tzaar baalei chaim (animal cruelty) to assist a wild animal at the expense of another? Would it be acceptable
- to help a wild predator catch wild prey (causing distress to the prey)?
- to prevent a wild predator from catching wild prey (causing distress and prolonged hunger for the predator)?
This is different from the question of feeding live animals to pets, in which case they depend on their owners entirely for their food.
For an example of the first point, if one caught a live pest of some sort, rather than killing it outright, would it be wrong to release it in a place where it will inevitably be killed by another animal (such as a spider web)? Or would this perhaps be better than killing it, since the human is not directly the cause of the animal's death?
For an example of the second point, suppose one saw a mouse about to be eaten by a snake, and chased away the snake to protect the mouse. It seems like a virtuous act of compassion, but if one were to keep on doing this to the snake, it would eventually die of hunger.
Does the answer depend on if there was a human benefit (such as animal population control)?