Environmental Law Program

Putting the “Wild” Back in Wildlife with Visiting Professor Daniel Rohlf

photo 4Visiting Professor Daniel Rohlf from Lewis and Clark Law School generously donated his time to give a presentation to Richardson students and faculty on “Putting the ‘Wild’ Back in Wildlife.”  Professor Rohlf had been teaching a short course on Wildlife law at Richardson this semester.  We thought this colloquium would be a beneficial opportunity for those unable to attend his class to experience a bit of his vast knowledge on the topic.

Professor Rohlf gave half-hour presentation followed by a question and answer session with the audience.  His captivating presentation highlighted recovery efforts of endangered species and scrutinized the concept of a “recovered species” versus a “conservation dependant species”.  The presentation included a number of interesting case studies on once endangered species that have reached self-sustaining populations in the wild, yet still depend on conservation efforts for future survival.  The main question being addressed was whether these species that still depend on human efforts should be considered recovered.

One example Professor Rohlf shared involved wolf conservation efforts clashing with ranching interests.  Although the wolf population has significantly recovered, a lack of protection for wolves between forest reserves has forced conservationists to manually transport wolves by truck between these sites to maintain genetic diversity.  The second example Professor Rohlf shared pertained to salmon migrations being desolated by hydro-electric dams.  In this case conservationists have to capture new-born salmon up river, load them into transport tanks, and either raise them in captivity or release them down river, past the dams.

Professor Rohlf makes the case that these species cannot be declared recovered under the Endangered Species Act because they cannot survive on their own without human intervention, taking the “wild” out of “wildlife”.  However, Professor Rohlf was sure to note the balancing of interests that go into these decisions, including community reliance on electricity generated from dams or food coming from ranches.

In closing, Professor Rohlf was sure to answer the range of questions stemming from the audience and enjoy a plate of food from Da Spot.  It was a great pleasure to have him as a guest for an ELP colloquium and we hope Richardson will have him back soon.  Aloha.