Wildlife Property Rights
- A friend recently sent me an email regarding Nebraska LB 836. The bill is meant to let certain landowners shoot more deer, including letting them use spotlights, in order to decrease the damage deer are doing to crops. No surprise, there are plenty of people opposing the bill. Unfortunately, many are using collectivist arguments such as, "Wildlife belongs to everybody/the state."
I have another OAC homework due soon, so I decided I should write that next article about, "What property rights does one accrue for wildlife?" I do not recall any Objectivist writing about this issue before. Has anyone seen such an article?
I would welcome any ideas concerning the subject you may conceive. So far, I have these:
In 1492, estimated 25,000,000 whitetail deer in US. In 1930, 300,000. Today, 30,000,000.
In Nebraska, 1901 - 50 deer. Today, 350,000. (8.4% annual growth rate.)
Deer damage crops and homeowner's personal property.
National Highway Transportation Safety dept. says 1,500,000 deer-auto collisions/yr. worth $1B, 223 deaths in 2007, average 10,000 injuries.
Farmers are liable for collisions with loose livestock.
If landowners 'own' deer, who pays for collisions? Impossible to determine 'whose deer it was'.
Some hunters put out food plots on private and public land to grow more/bigger deer.
State/Federal government owns much land, including wildlife refuges.
Fish & Game depts. have suggested laws to state legislatures, basically taking control of wildlife.
Prior to 1900 everyone/no one owned wildlife. (Thus, populations crashed.)
F&Gs have basically owned wildlife since about 1900. Deer populations have skyrocketed under their 'ownership'. (Is this properly considered ownership?)
Killing only bucks still increases populations.
Killing does can stabilize or reduce populations.
Coyotes, wolves, etc. can reduce populations of deer, (and livestock).
Some landowners would prefer to kill all deer. Others offer hunting leases.
Many of the ones bitching about deer damage will not let additional hunters on their land to kill deer.
There are lots of competing interests here, but I am not sure property rights fully manifest themselves anywhere. Answers will also have application to other issues, such as water rights, mineral rights, etc. What do you think?