Animal Property Rights

53 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2016 Last revised: 9 Feb 2018

See all articles by Karen Bradshaw

Karen Bradshaw

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Date Written: July 1, 2016


The legal movement within animal rights largely focuses on protecting captive species and large mammals like whales, apes, and lions. These important efforts focus on the animals most visible to humans. Yet, unsustainable land development and fishing practices are harming many species of wildlife and sea creatures, which we do not observe. Fish and wildlife populations have recently suffered staggering losses, and they stand to lose far more. This Article proposes a new legal approach to protect these currently overlooked creatures. I suggest extending property rights to animals, which would allow them to own land and water interests. Humans would manage corporations or trusts at an ecosystem level with a fiduciary benefit to the animal landowners—a structure that fits within existing legal institutions. Although admittedly radical, an animal property rights regime would create tremendous gains for imperiled species with relatively few costs to humans.

Keywords: environmental law, property law, natural resources law, animal law, law and biology

Suggested Citation

Bradshaw, Karen, Animal Property Rights (July 1, 2016). University of Colorado Law Review, Vol. 89, No. 3, 2018. Available at SSRN: or

Karen Bradshaw (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Farmer Building 440G PO Box 872011
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

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