Humankind coexists with every other living thing. People drink the same water, breathe the same air, and share the same land as other animals. Yet, property law reflects a general assumption that only people can own land. The effects of this presumption are disastrous for wildlife and humans alike. The alarm bells ringing about biodiversity loss are growing louder, and the possibility of mass extinction is real. Anthropocentric property is a key driver of biodiversity loss, a silent killer of species worldwide. But as law and sustainability scholar Karen Bradshaw shows, if excluding animals from a legal right to own land is causing their destruction, extending the legal right to own property to wildlife may prove its salvation. Wildlife as Property Owners advocates for folding animals into our existing system of property law, giving them the opportunity to own land just as humans do – to the betterment of all.
Part I: A Foundational Understanding of Animal Property Law
1: The Nexus of Animal Rights and the Rights of Nature
2: Biodiversity Loss as a Property Law Problem
Part II: Revealing the Existing Body of Animal Property Rights
3: The Biological Origins of Property
4: Uncovering Animal Rights in Existing Property Law
Part III: A Roadmap for Property Ownership to Benefit Biodiversity
5: Using Legal Trusts to Implement a System of Animal Property Rights
6: Traditional Legal Pathways to Formalizing Animal Property Rights
7: Leveraging Property Rights to Aid Biodiversity
8: Case Studies of Stakeholder Collaborations Managing Resource Competition between Humans and Wildlife
Case Study 1: Ranchers and Wild Horses in the West
Case Study 2: Outsourcing Thick-Billed Parrot Recovery to Mexico
Case Study 3: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Scientific Management of Caribou
Part IV: Analyzing the Potential of Animal Property Ownership
9: Evaluating a Property-Based Approach to Biodiversity Preservation
10: The Implications for Interspecies Ownership on Property Theory
Conclusion: Are Animal Property Rights the Rights of Nature?
Karen Bradshaw is professor of law and a Williard H. Pedrick Scholar at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. She is also a faculty affiliate scholar with the Classical Liberal Institute at the New York University School of Law and a senior sustainability scientist at the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Bradshaw researches the intersection of property, administrative, natural resources, animal, and environmental law. She is co-editor of Wildfire Policy: Law and Economics Perspectives.
“In our time of rapidly shrinking animal habitats and threatened biodiversity, we urgently need new ideas. Karen Bradshaw has written a bold, exhilarating book that mines the traditional concepts of property law for new proposals about how humans can contribute to ethically defensible coexistence. This is the most original contribution to animal law in a long time.”
– Martha C. Nussbaum, Law School and Philosophy Department, The University of Chicago
“Bradshaw's Wildlife as Property Owners is a wonderfully fresh look at how humans impact the lives of nonhuman animals (animals). We are now deeply immersed in the Anthropocene, a period I like to call ‘The Rage of Inhumanity,’ during which we not only rob other animals of their very lives, but also steal their homes when it works for us with little concern for them. When nonhumans are granted the right to own their homes, rather than merely renting them from us, it will be a gamechanger for fostering coexistence in which they and we are partners, rather than adversaries.”
– Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, author of The Animals' Agenda and Canine Confidential