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Lewis & Clark Law School Animal Legal Defense Fund

SALDF Hosts Tom and Henry Lininger

November 10, 2017

On Friday, November 10th, 2017, LC SALDF as well as SIEL and NEDC co-hosted Tom and Henry Lininger, who discussed wildlife protections that import aspects of the 4th amendment. They propose a doctrine of wildlife privacy that would import some aspects of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence to limit wildlife surveillance and limit the tracking and killing of wolves to avoid interactions with humans and livestock. 

Henry is the co-owner of a state certified conservation and animal management zone near Eugene, Oregon and his father, Tom, is a former prosecutor for environmental crimes, serves on the board of Oregon wild, and is a scholar of the intersection of environmental law and ethics teaching at the University of Oregon’s Law School. 

SALDF’s co-director, Ashlyn Whitbeck, launched the event by introducing the father and son duo and directing everyone to the delicious Thai food provided at the event. Henry Lininger started the talk by providing background information on the topic of wildlife surveillance. He then walked the audience through the collaring of wolves for surveillance purposes and the harm caused by collaring. Collaring is used largely because of its convenience and the large amount of data the collars can easily collect without much field work by scientists. However, the cost to the wolves is high. The constant surveillance allows the government to keep wolf populations at the bare minimum legally required and to interfere if the population grows larger. Most troubling is that the collars use radio signals that are easily intercepted and allows the animals to be found and killed by hunters. Henry then explained the alternative methods available to scientists for monitoring wolf populations that are not as intrusive and do not present the risks to the wolves that collaring does. Some alternatives include: footprint ID, scat analysis, howl boxes, fladry, and limits on new residences and ranching in wolf country. 

Tom then spoke about translating the ideas set forth in Henry’s part of the presentation into law in order to protect the health of animals while still allowing wolf monitoring. A doctrine of wildlife privacy would need to create new laws surrounding monitoring because current laws do not offer adequate protection. Tom suggests requiring a balance between the harm caused by intrusion and the need for information gathered through surveillance. He advocates for using alternative methods of monitoring and if these do not meet the needs of a study, to require scientists to present evidence that their research is necessary and for this evidence to be reviewed by an objective third party who keeps a record and determines whether the research may be done. He also suggests sanctions for violations relating to collaring. Although he does foresee objections to his suggested wildlife surveillance doctrine, he counters each of these to show that overall, this doctrine would be beneficial to wildlife, scientific integrity, and the humans and livestock that live near the wolves. He claims that the trick is not to permit surveillance without a demonstrable need that has something to do with an animal or the community where the animals belong.

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