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Cooperating With Wildlife: The Past, Present, and Future of Wildlife Federalism

June 2013

Citation: 43 ELR 10501

Issue: 6

Author: Kalyani Robbins

States have traditionally played a significant role in managing wildlife, but play a very small role in implementing the Endangered Species Act, and an even smaller role with other federal wildlife statutes. The disconnect between the federal government and states (where the local knowledge is strongest) results in both inefficiencies and harmful incentives. While states and local governments are best positioned to manage local habitat, federal oversight is needed to ensure that our widely shared benefits (biodiversity) are not lost to a tragedy of the commons problem. Protection of vulnerable ecosystems is best served via a structure of overlapping federalism. Informally, this is already happening, but cost efficiency may be improved via an effort to adaptively, but still more formally, allocate that overlap.

Kalyani Robbins is Associate Professor of Law, University of Akron School of Law.

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