Killing Wolves to Save Them? Legal Responses to ‘Tolerance Hunting’ in the European Union and United States
Epstein, Yaffa. "Killing Wolves to Save Them? Legal Responses to ‘Tolerance Hunting’ in the European Union and United States." Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law 26.1 (2017): 19-29.
17 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2017 Last revised: 26 Apr 2017
Date Written: April 22, 2017
Wolves are protected by law in both the United States (US) and European Union (EU). These laws restrict the harming or killing of individual members of protected species, but allow it in selective circumstances, such as when killing some individuals would benefit the species. In both unions, some states have argued that allowing the public hunting of wolves would in fact benefit the species by improving social tolerance for wolves, a claim that is currently the subject of controversy among scientists. In the absence of clear evidence that hunting is favourable for wolf populations, US courts have repeatedly struck down policies that allowed it. While hunting wolves to achieve their social acceptability is likely to also violate EU law, the EU court has not yet resolved the question and hunting for social acceptance continues in some Member States, such as Sweden and Finland. This article contrasts these legal responses to social ‘tolerance hunting’ and argues that the Habitats Directive should not be interpreted to allow tolerance hunting of strictly protected species. It then uses the contrasting legal situations to engage with the claim that the EU has become more ‘precautionary’ than the US on environmental matters.
Keywords: Habitats Directive, Endangered Species Act, Precautionary Principle, Environmental Law
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