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This is a pretty good video for those interested in who owns wildlife (I'll cut to the chase and tell you we do, we the people of each state) and what is the background for our current legal way of dealing with wildlife ownership.

The initial speaker is a bit much with the books background and what not, but the vid quickly progresses to a background of wildlife appropriate shots and historical photos with a very informative narration.

Almost a year ago today, I stood in some snowy buffalo grass and knelt next to a sage. I remember smelling both the sage and the hair smell from the animal I'd harvested. I carefully tore the portion of a plastic license that said Dec, and then on the other side I found the number 30 and made a slight nick in the plastic. Taking out a pencil stub I scratched my autograph on the line and what used to be wildlife in the state of CO became a 600lb carcass belonging to yours truly. That animal had been kept in trust for me by my state.

A big hat tip to the folks over at Fair Chase a blog for people affiliated with Orion, an institute concerned with, "ethical and philosophical issues to promote fair chase and responsible hunting."

Originally posted to ban nock at DKos on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 05:10 AM PST.

Also republished by Hunting and Fishing Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I would expect that wildlife would be (4+ / 0-)

    appurtenances to real property: if it steps on my lands, I own it for all relevant purposes.

    •  As far as I know you can control who shoots it (6+ / 0-)

      on your land but the permission to shoot it in the first place comes from the state. It also still belongs to the state until it's legally harvested.

      Big problem with ranchers out here. Elk and deer eat all the grass and pull down the stacks of alfalfa but the only way to stop them is big fences. So the division of wildlife pays big compensation. They area also generous with land owner tags. Ranchers sometimes now make more off hunting than ranching. Five to ten thousand per tag for bulls.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 06:57:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock, KenBee

      In a rejection of European laws where the lord owned the wildlife and peasant hunters were poachers, the United States began with the idea that wildlife was owned by the state.  It becomes individual property when "rendered to possession."

      •  RE: European laws - Not really... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I've found out that that's a bit of commonly believed fiction that we in north America tell ourselves to offset the NAM.

        A source I read said that no European countries hold that wildlife belong to the landowner (at least in the modern era).  Rather, there are 2 legal principles that organize European laws (various countries place themselves in one or the other).  One is that wildlife belong to everyone (res communis) in which case the state can regulate independently of the landowner.  Another is that wildlife belong to no one (res nullius).  In the latter, the landowner usually owns the right to kill, hence access by hunters requires some sort of contract with the landowner.

        •  From my Conservation Law class eons ago (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ban nock

          Well, that is what I was taught in my Conservation Law class in the 60's.  Notwithstanding that, I am not disagreeing with your description of current ownership laws and customs.  It seems to me that both may be correct.

          I talked at length with a German gentleman (avid hunter) about this in the early 90's as we sat next to each other on a trans-Atlantic flight.  He asserted ownership of his deer, and wondered how it was that we had deer when it was not at all clear to him who feeds them.  I took his claims at face value, but I am not prepared to do more than restate them here.  Whatever the current situation, it may not have much relationship to the ownership claims of German nobles in the 18th century.  Being on the losing end of two World Wars, with subsequent reorganization eliminating the noble class, probably made some changes in game ownership too.  It was a fascinating conversation though.  

          Finally, and admittedly not a modern text but perhaps more relevant to the question of British game ownership in the late 18th Century, I have enjoyed reading the Lonsdale Keeper's Book (Eric Parker, ed, Lippincott, 1938) which goes on at length about grouse, pheasants, sheep, stoats, and the raising of young birds in pens (but not the sort of pens we think of).  They were hatching eggs under hens, in rearing boxes, regularly relocating the boxes early in the chicks' lives, then catching the young birds, binding one wing, and fencing thousands of them in pens of 10 acres or so.  Keepers for the Right Honorable Earl of Lonsdale were moving birds to fresh ground, applying supplemental feed and checking to see that it was entirely consumed to leave none on the ground to go foul, etc.  The book describes a modified rearing and herding of gamebirds, much as sheep might be tended in pastures today.  It also covers the obligation of the keeper to defend against poachers in a way that suggests no public ownership of game in his charge.  Again, the question of ownership is more assumed than stated throughout most of the book, but this is a book about agriculture on English manors pre-WWII, the product of which is huge quantities of game birds (for the most part).  That assumption of ownership seems to me to be inescapable.  Early 20th Century English lords did not have the sway of 18th Century English lords, where feudal governance was giving way to mercantile power.  From all that, I think my Conservation Law professor (taken as part of a forestry curriculum) still might have been right.

          •  I should add that the birds involved were wild (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ban nock

            While the pheasants were exotics, the majority of the birds described were English grouse, a wild bird.  There were also wild ducks in the mix.  

            •  I've forgotten to even mention privately owned (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              salmo, KenBee

              species that also live in the wild such as pheasant or deer and elk. Montana had a big fuss recently. Don't know if they shut down private ownership of elk or what.

              There's a biologist I like who hates what privately raised elk might do to hunting. I saw a bunch being raised in Southern Colorado earlier this fall, they get transported to a larger pen for shooting. Some pay lots of money to shoot a high fence elk. Eliminates a lot of guess work about size of antlers etc. Very frowned upon by many.

              How big is your personal carbon footprint?

              by ban nock on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 05:47:42 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Whatever it is that a trophy buyer does in those (0+ / 0-)

                fenced killings, it isn't hunting.  I don't begrudge the trophy buyer his magnificent mount, or the farmer that raised the animal his income.  Whole books have been written about the difference between that, and the process of hunting.  Suffice it to say, I with your biologist on the consequences of lumping that together with what I do.

      •  right, I can kill it. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ban nock

        if I can kill it and eat it or trap it and keep it as a pet, that's most of the sticks in the bundle.

        •  Kill it in season, yes. Otherwise, probably not (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ban nock, KenBee

          But, you can't trap it and keep it as a pet.  I got a sternly worded letter in the early 90's for keeping a variety of native fish in an aquarium to illustrate a point about water quality.  The fish and game guys made me kill them, and go to goldfish, because wild fish may not be kept without a special license allowing a citizen to keep property of the State.  For what it's worth, the goldfish (a sub-species of carp) were not nearly as effective.  Bait dealers seem to be able to get such licenses, and at least part of their stock is wild, but in my case that was not allowed.  Perhaps the inclusion of a couple of bass fry was the problem.  

          I also know that my state strictly prohibits including wild animals within the stock of a hunting preserve, where the game is privately owned.  Such a enterprise must first demonstrate to the State's satisfaction that there are no wild deer in a preserve deer pen, for example, and the preserve must demonstrate that it has fenced the preserve so as to exclude wild animals.  There are special licenses for wildlife rehabilitators and the like that allow wild animals to be kept, at least for a time.  There are also special licenses for falconers, who keep wild caught birds for sport.  There are any number of laws and rules that make it clear that the State asserts ownership and control of wildlife especially as it relates to keeping it alive, including that on your property.

  •  Exotics (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock

    The obvious example of wildlife in private ownership is so called game preserves, where non-native species of wildlife are privately owned.  

    •  The whole exotics thing worries me (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Otteray Scribe, salmo

      I think of things getting loose and wreaking havoc. Then there is the whole "rewilding" crowd that want to introduce large carnivores such as tigers and lions to the western US.

      At some time I worry sabre toothed tigers or wooly mammoths will be able to be grown off genetic material.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 07:23:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  rewilding? that sounds insane! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ban nock, Otteray Scribe, salmo

        but i'd sure like to see an interconnected wilderness system across the country so animals can move around somewhat naturally. i think that's a noble and realistic goal.

        Granny Storm Crow's MMJ Reference List-686 pages of hyperlinks in PDF format Yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery. Today is a gift and that's why it's called "The Present".

        by elkhunter on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 08:23:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Only if we get rid of people is it realistic (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Otteray Scribe, salmo, KenBee

          and that's often what the plan is. War on rural.

          If the goal was underpasses across the interstate that would be great, but confiscating land and telling humans they don't belong is a little beyond me, mostly because it's people in places where there is no wildlife doing the telling.

          How big is your personal carbon footprint?

          by ban nock on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 09:06:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I hadn't followed it that closely (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ban nock, salmo

            and was thinking more in terms of wildlife corridors, underpasses and such. I wouldn't be in favor of any plan that included confiscating land or banning humans.

            Granny Storm Crow's MMJ Reference List-686 pages of hyperlinks in PDF format Yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery. Today is a gift and that's why it's called "The Present".

            by elkhunter on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 11:30:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  They cause me concern (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              You can trace a lot of the leadership back to the Earth First-ers. Earth First spawned the only left wing terrorist group in modern times the Earth Liberation Front and some legal but very destructive elements of environmentalism such as Center for Biologic Diversity etc. When I hear Conservation Biology instead of Biologic Conservation my ears perk up. Michael E. Soulé one of the original Conservation Biologists traces his routes back to that same group.

              I wouldn't know how to classify them all on the back of a postcard. Anti rural doesn't do it. Pro carnivore to the point of a belief system.

              How big is your personal carbon footprint?

              by ban nock on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 11:43:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Starlings (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ban nock, KenBee

        There are any number of examples of exotic species damaging habitats and wildlife populations where they are introduced.  The obvious example is starlings, but we could say the same thing about pythons, snakeheads, axis deer, and even small mouth bass introduced by some nitwit in one of the best remaining brook trout streams in the country here in Maine.  The examples are legion.  Generally speaking, non-native species ought not to be introduced into new environments.  Involving politics in this does not improve the prospects for a benign outcome.

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