Consistently, courts in the United States have held that the sovereign states hold wildlife in trust for the benefit of all the people. The legislatures, responding to a public concern that uncontrolled hunting was threatening the survival of indigenous species, invoked the states' police powers to enact restrictions on when, where, and to what extent an individual may legally kill wildlife.
Over the years, however, the state agencies responsible for wildlife management adopted a narrow perspective, disproportionately reflecting the views of the small minority of
the population which still benefits from wildlife by hunting and trapping it for recreation.' Thus, a major goal of state wildlife agencies has been to "manage" wildlife by increasing the population levels of so-called "game" animals for hunting and trapping. This has resulted in ecological imbalances as well as disproportionate fiscal investment in this facet of wildlife planning and activity." This narrow focus has developed because of several complex factors including state and federal laws which provide irresistible financial incentives to increase the consumption of wildlife.' This, in turn, results in inappropriately manipulated ecosystems with artificially high populations of some animals sustained for the benefit of the hunters and trappers, to the detriment of other wildlife and the environment in general.'
New York State, where hunters and trappers killed approximately 3.7 million wild animals last year, will be used as a concrete example of this problem. After examining specific wildlife management dynamics within New York, the article concludes with a number of proposals designed to get the state out of the business of promoting the killing of wildlife. The proposals would require the state to implement mechanisms more reflective of modern day concerns for the protection of both wildlife and the environment in general.