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Resolving the Tragedy of the Commons by Creating Private Property Rights in Wildlife

Robert J. Smith

Cato Journal, 1981, vol. 1, issue 2, 439-468

Abstract: During man’s relatively brief existence on this planet,he has relied on the bounty of its flora and fauna for his existence. He has harvested wildlife for food, clothing, shelter, medicines, beasts of burden, pets, and companionship. Over most of this period, this harvesting and exploitation had little impact on those resources. Human population was very low, and most animal and plant populations were relatively large. Animal and plant communities, populations, and species that became extinct did so from other than human causes. Only in recent centuries has man’s exploitation of wildlife begun to have a deleterious effect. This was the result of rapid population growth, more efficient means of capture and kill, and expansion into new continents, especially islands and tropical areas where many species of wildlife had evolved with small, localized populations and without contact with man or his camp followers, such as dogs, cats, and rats. Western exploration and col- onization quickly created serious problems of overharvesting and overexploitation of wildlife and led to a slow development of human-caused extinctions...

Keywords: land; private property; wildlife; regulation; government (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1981
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