Our Position

For those who don't understand AFC's position regarding the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, I would explain that this model acquired its name in attempt to separate itself from the European model where wildlife inhabiting a landowners real estate is the property of that landowner so long as that wildlife resides on his land. In the U.S. wildlife belongs to no one until possession takes place, therefore the landowner has no claim to wildlife. He can merely deny access to that wildlife by denying access to his real estate, or conversely, he can provide access to that wildlife by providing access to his land.

In order to provide authority to a governmental agency to oversee the management of wildlife in the U.S., that authority must have a source of power, otherwise the government cannot act on some issue. That power is derived from the people and therefore wildlife is seen as "owned" by the people. This "ownership" is to be understood figuratively, not literally, otherwise wildlife could not be alienated from the "public trust" and no one would be allowed to hunt, trap or fish in any way, shape or form (some people simply don't see the contradiction in their view points, or if they do, then they are attempting to deceive the public for political ends). Therefore, our legal system uses phrases that attempt to explain an idea even though the phrase may not be a perfectly accurate way to explain an idea. As we know, the public trust doctrine applies primarily to waterways, historically, and more recently has been expanded to incorporate public parks, since it seems to fit the model of permanent and fixed resources (whereas wildlife is transient - here today, gone tomorrow). However, since we have no term that fits wildlife's transient legal circumstances, we had to come up with something close to the concept of the public trust doctrine to explain the concept that wildlife is there for every citizen to have access to. No U.S. landowner can claim property rights in free ranging wildlife. This is what the N.A. Model encompasses so they use the legal term "public trust" to explain this concept even though it is not a perfect fit; it simply sounds good and we all get the idea. In the legal world it is called a "term of art" or "words of art"; the definition of which is words that "have either no or different meanings outside a legal context." The use of the phrase "public trust in wildlife" is a term of art that expresses a concept that wildlife (meaning free roaming animals) cannot be owned by anyone (wildlife ceases to be "wildlife" once taken from the wild even though wildlife agencies continue to reference it as such in order to maintain their regulatory authority - which does not include ownership authority - over these animals; again, a term of art). However, it does not and cannot mean that once legally taken, it is not owned by the citizen who took the animal. If we've come to that point, we are no longer the same nation that our founders envisioned; rather we would be better served by re-naming this country the Socialist States of America, since the concept of property rights would have been abandoned. We need to remember that property rights are the bedrock of this nation and without it, our economy would sink into a 3rd world status like those countries that don't have a well established legal system of property rights.

So to say that AFC defends the N. A. Model as it relates to the FACT that wildlife belongs to no one until possession takes place, is perfectly accurate. We do not want to see landowners claim property rights in free roaming wildlife as our cousins in Europe claim. This is utterly unacceptable to us and we would fight the idea alongside those who are against our property rights of animals taken from the wild, such as those who are against AFC within the falconry community. How these falconers can justify the take and use of raptors for falconry purposes while asserting that we don't own our birds, but rather remain the property of the "public," demonstrates minds that have a very narrow field of vision and are therefore dangerous to our sport.