The enterprise of conservation is inherently ethical, requiring conservationists to navigate morally challenging problems. Working together, conservationists and ethicists have developed the field of conservation ethics. Yet, due to the deeply interdisciplinary nature of the field, conservation ethics faces a unique set of challenges. We first comment on the harm caused by reciprocal ignorance between some practicing conservationists and ethicists. We then explore the difficulties of creating a widely applied ethic, examining conversations surrounding the recently emerged virtue ethic, Compassionate Conservation. By bringing attention to these challenges, and highlighting medical bioethics as a touchstone of productive applied ethical theory, we can help the field avoid unproductive pitfalls, as well as facilitate positive and productive communication and collaboration between the various members of the different disciplines involved.