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From the King's Deer to a Capitalist Commodity: A Social Historical Analysis of the Poaching Law

NCJ Number
International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice Volume: 36 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2012 Pages: 133-148
Stephen Eliason
Date Published
May 2012
16 pages
This research provides a social historical analysis of poaching laws over time.
Laws prohibiting the illegal taking of wildlife resources have a long history. This research provides a social historical analysis of the poaching law over time. Using a critical Marxist theoretical perspective, it argues that poaching laws have gone through three phases that correspond to the respective level of societal industrialization and dominant social class interests of the time. Poaching laws in the preindustrial phase (prior to 1850) were used to protect game that belonged to elite members of society as well as to prevent social disruption and rebellion by the lower class. During the industrial era (1850-1950), game laws emerged in response to the efforts of elite sport hunters who advocated for conservation. Wildlife resources became increasingly commercialized in the postindustrial phase (1950 to the present), and state wildlife laws and policies are increasingly aligned with private property interests and reflect the growing commercial value placed on trophy wildlife. The analysis concludes by examining changes in Utah's big-game poaching laws. Abstract published by arrangement with Taylor and Francis.