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Contextual Factors in the Development of Wildlife Management Regimes in the United States

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Buck, Susan J.
Conference: Crossing Boundaries, the Seventh Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Conf. Date: June 10-14
Date: 1998
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1604
Sector: Wildlife
Region: North America
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
Abstract: "In the United States, wildlife is a common pool resource (CPR) held in trust by the federal government and state governments for American citizens. Initially states had exclusive jurisdiction over wildlife within state borders, but wildlife management in the United States is now a unique blend of federal and state policies. The federal government has pre-empted state jurisdiction over some species that are threatened or endangered or that are subject to treaty obligations, and wildlife on federal land is generally subject to federal jurisdiction rather than to the jurisdiction of the states within which the land is located. Even though the level of government that holds property rights in wildlife may vary by species and location, most property rights in wildlife are vested in governments rather than landowners. "The problems of pre-empted, overlapping, and concurrent jurisdiction over American wildlife become even more complex when we consider multiple uses and users. For example, wildlife resources are managed for a variety of purposes, including hunting, angling, and recreation. These activities are not mutually exclusive. Specific activities within broad categories may also affect each other (e.g., hunting seasons on one species during the breeding season of another game species) and with other uses of the same resource domain (e.g., the well-known conflict between spotted owl protection and logging in old-growth forests). "Wildlife management in the United States is an extremely complicated issue. It is in constant flux as legislation and court interpretations change the property regime under which wildlife is managed. Explicit examination of contextual factors ... that influence regime changes is a promising analytic technique for clarifying regime structures.... "This paper applies the framework developed by Edwards and Steins to the common pool resource regime of American wildlife management. The focus is on state wildlife management agencies and contextual factors that have influenced their institutional design and sustainability. I have chosen to focus on state management agencies for two reasons. First, state agencies are the primary institutions with responsibility for implementation of wildlife management policies. Second, they are nested (albeit not in a tidy Weberian hierarchy) within the national wildlife management regime and are therefore more acted upon than are federal agencies. "The paper is divided into four parts: (1) Contextual factors: Based on the contextual factors outlined in the panel discussion paper, factors which are particularly relevant to the development of American state wildlife agencies are identified; (2) Case study: State wildlife management: The evolution of state wildlife agencies from 1890 to the present is described briefly; (3) Analysis: This section discusses the insights gained from using contextual factors to organize longitudinal analysis of a multiple-use CPR regime. The utility of contextual factors to explain the changes that have taken place in the past thirty years, as concern for conservation and biodiversity have become central to American natural resource policy, is emphasized; (4) Further research: Guidelines for using contextual factors are proposed. Further avenues for research, particularly in multiple-use common property situations, are suggested."

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