AFWA's Legal Strategy strives to build awareness across the conservation community of the constitutional, statutory, and jurisprudential sources of state wildlife management authority, create opportunities for students and practitioners of natural resources law to learn about state management, and protect state, provincial, and territorial authority to address longstanding and emerging threats to fish and wildlife, such as habitat loss, invasive species, and wildlife diseases.

We envision a future of healthy fish and wildlife populations managed by our member agencies for the public's long-term benefit and use, supported by sound science and in collaboration with public and private partners.

The Legal Strategy seeks to address challenges including:

  • Public misunderstanding of, or lack of appreciation for, the Public Trust Doctrine and its application to fish and wildlife management.
  • Lack of public awareness that regulated hunting, shooting sports, angling, boating, and trapping fund conservation.
  • Lack of dedicated wildlife law and policy curricula in colleges and law schools (as opposed to animal rights).
  • The increasing role of courts in adjudicating management decisions, draining resources from conservation delivery and undermining state management.

In the coming year, AFWA aims to continue and embark on a number of exciting initiatives, including:

  • Publish materials communicating the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and the Public Trust Doctrine in a variety of legal and non-legal formats.
  • Coordinate with state bar associations and NGOs with an eye toward placing wildlife law and policy courses with secondary institutions (AFWA has already placed courses at law schools in Michigan, Georgia, and South Carolina).
  • Scale up AFWA's efforts to place JD candidates in internships/field placements/clerkships with state fish and wildlife agencies.

We will also continue to track legislative, regulatory, and judicial developments as they unfold, and provide forums for discussion on topics of relevance to our member agencies (e.g., federal aid in wildlife restoration and education, endangered species management, implementation of wildlife-related treaty legislation).