Dr. Kristie R. Blevins
Professor – Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eastern Kentucky University
Dr. Jonathan Gassett
Southeastern Field Representative, Wildlife Management Institute
State and federal fish and wildlife agencies have a duty to conserve, enhance, and protect wildlife held in the public trust. State agencies do this primarily by funding provided by hunter and angler license revenue and federal excise taxes on equipment, rather than general tax dollars, while federal agencies are primarily funded with a mixture of federal general tax and excise tax revenue. Wildlife laws and regulations are designed to protect and conserve natural resources, with a subset of those defining requirements for legal take of fish and wildlife, most of which address the issue of commercialization.
While the true cost of wildlife commercialization is a complicated, multifaceted construct, the actions of violators undoubtedly produce significant economic and societal burdens on our system of conservation that greatly outweigh the realized revenue from fines and penalties. Wildlife crimes also create negative societal perceptions of hunters and anglers and the agencies that support and regulate them. Ultimately, these economic and societal factors result in increased costs for state and federal agencies and the public in terms of license dollars, replacement costs of resources, federal excise tax revenue, increased enforcement efforts, more stringent regulations, and ultimately a loss of public support.
This special session will examine the economic impacts and true costs associated with commercialization of wildlife through 1) case studies from state and federal fish and wildlife agencies focusing on intrastate, interstate, and international wildlife crime; 2) reviews of the successes or failures of the Wildlife Violator Compact, and 3) examinations of the societal views projected on legal participants due to the illegal activities of violators.