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Wildlife Law

B550 is taught by R. Fischman, W. Weeks

The course begins with the ethical foundations for wildlife law and how they inform distinctions among humans, pets, livestock, research/display animals, game, and other wild organisms. We contrast laws prohibiting animal cruelty with efforts to abolish property rights to animals (animal rights). The ethical issues recur in the class, from the first case we read (denying personhood to an elephant) to the last (an opinion of the International Court of Justice criticizing Japanese whaling). In between we spend considerable time on the acquisition (e.g., through hunting & fishing) and extent of property rights in animals and the responsibilities they entail. About half of the course is devoted to federal wildlife statutes that aim to prevent extinction or restore abundance of wildlife. We spend most of that time examining and critiquing the complex regulatory framework of the Endangered Species Act. We consider the effectiveness of extinction prevention policies and the ethics of rewildling, or reviving extinct species through genetic engineering.

In dealing with these subjects, students will apply the ethics, common law, statutes, and regulations to problems (both hypothetical and real). The class also discusses the role of the natural and social sciences in public policy related to animals as individuals and as collectives (biodiversity).

Most class sessions will be discussion oriented. Law students will work on problems with graduate students studying public administration and environmental science (future agency officials and expert consultants). The graduate students take the same class under a different, cross-listed number and will be graded on a separate curve.

Class grades will be based principally on substantive class contributions and a final exam. All required readings for the class will be provided through Canvas.