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Birds, Bunnies and the Furbish Lousewort—Wildlife and Mining on the Public Lands

Constance K. Lundberg, Proceedings of 24th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1978)

Wildlife law and mining law are both systems of law governing the extent to and manner in which the resource is used by different groups of people. The characteristics of the different resources have produced markedly different distribution and control systems. In the realm of natural resources minerals are the most fixed and wildlife the most transient. In spite of this difference laws affecting wildlife and mining showed marked similarities in their development throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Each resource was freely used by early Americans, controlled, if at all, by the states. In the last twenty-five years the federal government has become active in the management of public resources. As regulation of wildlife, mining, and use of the public lands has increased, there has been a sharp increase in government involvement in resolving conflicts between users of these resources. The conflict is most apparent in the reversal of the traditional assumption that environmental impacts, including those on wildlife, are an acceptable consequence of mining activity. This paper is an analysis of some of the restrictions placed on mining to protect wildlife.