III. History of Wildlife Crimes
The first laws regulating hunting and fishing were implemented in England in the 1600s in an effort to protect the wildlife and property of landowner and the aristocracy. Such laws allowed the aristocrats to preserve game animals and fish on their property by prohibiting others from hunting and fishing there without permission (see Palmer & Bryant, 1985). While game wardens were appointed in some American colonies in the 1700s, fishing and game hunting were not well regulated in the United States until the late 1800s, when state legislatures began to create fish and wildlife protection and conservation agencies (Sherblom, Keranen, & Withers, 2002).
Prior to the late 19th century, lawmakers in the United States did not deem it a priority to place controls over hunting and fishing because wildlife resources were plentiful across sparsely populated land. However, as the human population increased and more land was developed or farmed, wildlife resources began to decline. In addition, conflict developed as individuals would often hunt or fish on property that was owned by other persons.
Movements to preserve wildlife in the United States arose in the early 1900s. During this time, federal and state parks, along with other wildlife preserves, were created to manage fish and game populations, some of which were in danger of becoming extinct (see National Park Service, 1940). Similarly, state regulations and restrictions were created to regulate hunting and fishing. While the regulations varied somewhat from state to state, one commonality is that states began to require individuals to purchase a license to hunt or fish. States also set mandates concerning the types, size, and number of fish and game animals that may be taken. In addition, they began to designate hunting seasons, or particular times of year when each type of animal could be legally hunted (see Blair, 1985). Other common state wildlife laws concern property regulations (e.g., hunting is not allowed on any property without permission from the owner), specific hours per day during which hunting is allowed (e.g., daylight hours only), and type of weapon that may be used during certain hunting seasons.