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Wildlife Law: A Coming of Age

February 2003

Citation: ELR 10132

Author: Dale D. Goble and Eric T. Freyfogle

For years, individual law professors have offered courses in wildlife law. Many of the courses have centered on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or on the preservation of biological diversity. Others have considered the subject more broadly, attending to issues of the allocation of power within the federal system, to wildlife-related problems on federal lands, or to issues arising under state game laws. In January 2002, wildlife law came of age with the publication by Foundation Press of the first casebook covering the subject.1 We authored that book, and in doing so took on the challenge of assessing how the subject might best be bounded and structured.

In compiling the book, we cast our net widely, drawing upon the full range of wildlife-related legal materials coming from local and state governments, Indian tribes, the federal government, and international bodies. Because wildlife law has such a long but little-known history, we drew extensively upon the field's rich legal background. Because people value wildlife in many ways and for many purposes, we also sought to cover the full range of legal problems that wildlife posed, from tort claims based on spider bites, to disputes over subsistence fishing rights and oyster beds, to claims that mourning doves are not "game" birds, to tribal efforts to enforce off-reservation hunting rights, to conflicts over critical habitat losses on public and private lands. Inevitably our efforts at inclusiveness resulted in a big book—1,500 pages despite substantial cuts at the page-proof stage. No instructor, we knew, could cover all the topics. We therefore arranged our materials into distinct chapters, usable (we hope) in nearly any combination.

Dale Goble is Margaret Wilson Schimke Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Idaho. Eric Freyfogle is Max L. Rowe Professor of Law at the University of Illinois.

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