Wildlife Management With a Capitalistic or a Socialistic Flavor: A Comparison of Montana with Norway

Jon E. Swenson

Abstract


Montana and Norway passed laws in 1897 and 1899, respectively, which set the stage for today’s wildlife management. These laws were part of an effort to conserve dwindling populations of large ungulates. The Montana Legislature decided that the responsibility of wildlife management would rest primarily with the State, whereas the Norwegian Parliament decided that it would rest with the landowner. These efforts to conserve native large ungulates were successful in both Montana and Norway, but the choice of philosophically different ways to accomplish it led to very different management systems. I argue that Montana chose a socialistic system, in the sense that everyone has the same right to hunt and fish. Norway chose a capitalistic system with the landowners owning the hunting and fishing rights. I will argue that this has had major implications for the differences between these two entities in political support for wildlife, hunting methods and ethics, and wildlife conservation in general.

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