The electronic surveillance of wildlife has grown more extensive than ever. For instance, thousands of wolves wear collars transmitting signals to wildlife biologists. Some collars inject wolves with tranquilizers that allow for their immediate capture if they stray outside of the boundaries set by anthropocentric management policies. Hunters have intercepted the signals from surveillance collars and have used this information to track and slaughter the animals. While the ostensible reason for the surveillance programs is to facilitate the peaceful coexistence of humanity and wildlife, the reality is less benign—an outdoor version of Bentham’s Panopticon.
This Article reconceptualizes the enterprise of wildlife surveillance. Without suggesting that animals have standing to assert constitutional rights, the Article posits a public interest in protecting the privacy of wildlife. The very notion of wildness implies privacy. The law already protects the bodily integrity of animals to some degree, and a protected zone of privacy is penumbral to this core protection, much the same way that human privacy emanates from narrower guarantees against government intrusion.
Policy implications follow that are akin to the rules under the Fourth Amendment limiting the government’s encroachment on human privacy. Just as the police cannot install a wiretap without demonstrating a particularized investigative need for which all less intrusive methods would be insufficient, so too should surveillance of wildlife necessitate a specific showing of urgency. A detached, neutral authority should review all applications for electronic monitoring of wildlife. Violati ons of the rules should result in substantial sanctions. The Article concludes by considering—and refuting—foreseeable objections to heightened requirements for the surveillance of wildlife.
Henry Lininger & Tom Lininger,
Unlocking the “Virtual Cage” of Wildlife Surveillance,
27 Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum
Available at: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/delpf/vol27/iss2/1