U.S. Wildlife Law, Policy & Ethics

Course Description

Upon successful completion of this course students will possess a thorough understanding of the U.S. legal system governing fish and wildlife conservation as it relates to wildlife management and will develop the skills necessary to analyze the complex stakeholder motivations affecting U.S. wildlife conservation policies from multiple perspectives.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Analyze and discuss primary sources, including statutes and cases relevant to the course topics.
  2. Appraise and debate the Constitutional framework, levels of government and forms of law, the courts’ role in resolving conflicts and the potential barriers to bringing cases and requesting relief on behalf of wildlife.
  3. Examine and critique traditional and contemporary approaches to wildlife management in the United States, including the North American Model and the public trust doctrine, and apply ethical frameworks for identifying and analyzing related ethical concerns.
  4. Evaluate key U.S. treatises, federal statutes and agencies involved in the conservation of fish and wildlife, protection of endangered species and the publics’ role in affecting policy formulation, implementation and government accountability.
  5. Inspect and compare the goals, objectives, strengths and weaknesses of existing statutes, non-governmental recommendations and the role of environmental conservation efforts for affecting positive changes in wildlife protection.
  6. Explain and interpret tensions between stakeholder interests, differentiating between ethical, cultural, societal and other contextual perspectives in resolving controversies associated with protection of endangered species and habitats.

Course Topics

Module Topic
Module 1 Course Introduction; Reading Cases & Statutes; What is Wildlife in the U.S.
Module 2 Our Relationship to Wild Animals & Ethical Perspectives
Module 3 U.S. Government Basics & the Evolution of State Wildlife Oversight
Module 4 Wildlife & Private Interests in the U.S.
Module 5 Wildlife & Private Interests Continued; the Constitutional Framework
Module 6 State Agencies & Game Laws; Wildlife on Federal Land
Module 7 Key Federal Statutes: Lacey, MBTA, B&GEPA, Wild & Free-Roaming Horses & Burros Act
Module 8 Key Federal Statutes Continued: FAWRA, MMPA, Magnuson-Stevens
Module 9 Key Federal Statutes Continued: ESA
Module 10 Native American Tribal Rights to Wildlife
Module 11 Wildlife Special Topics
Module 12 New Approaches to Wildlife Law & Conservation
Module 13 Course Wrap-up