Animal Welfare Law


Protecting Evolutionary Potential: Can the Endangered Species Act Save Species Before They Exist?

Natalie Jacewicz

As popularly conceived, environmental conservation is a backward-looking exercise that aims to restore and protect the biodiversity of our parents and grandparents. But this static view of nature is a fiction. Scientists have grown increasingly aware that species are still evolving and, in some cases, doing so rapidly. What’s more, scientists are beginning to be able to make predictions about when and how evolution will occur. This Note argues that such nascent biodiversity is worthy of protection. Furthermore, the text and purpose of the Endangered Species Act require protecting populations likely to evolve in the foreseeable future. Without changing the administrative criteria for implementing the Act, agencies could protect nascent biodiversity under the statutory provisions covering threatened “distinct population segments.” Finally, this Note responds to some possible difficulties with this approach. As scientific understanding of evolution and biodiversity continues to advance, agencies must consider that their statutory mandate is not to recreate the past, but to enrich the future.

Unsafe Havens: Improving Third-Party Accreditation of Wildlife Sanctuaries

Simon J. Williams

A number of animal “sanctuaries” and “rescue centers” operate across the United States and, in spite of their sympathetic names that attract visitors and donors, in fact neglect their animals and commit egregious violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Since United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) enforcement of the AWA is extremely weak, third parties have begun certifying and accrediting different facilities of captive animal care. This Note addresses the work of such third-party accreditors and argues that, while they can indeed play a valuable role in regulating wildlife sanctuaries and educating the public, they can only achieve these goals effectively through a more detailed and comprehensive accreditation framework. Part I gives relevant background on the AWA and identifies how its ambiguities and enforcement deficit create informational and regulatory gaps in which third-party accreditors can take meaningful action. Part II analyzes the accreditors themselves, revealing the limited extent of their coverage, the ideological rifts that divide them, and important contrasts in their processes and standards for accreditation. Part III turns to potential solutions for addressing this fractured landscape. It proposes a tiered and detailed accreditation system that more effectively communicates relevant information to prospective visitors and donors. It also evaluates and critiques several alternative solutions.