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Not unlike before the biblical flood, the world stands on the brink of catastrophe awaiting rescue by a virtual ark. The most vulnerable to this looming catastrophe are the world’s wildlife. Changes in global temperature and precipitation as well as sea level rise and acidification of the ocean are already affecting wildlife by limiting the availability and quality of habitat and the abundance of prey, and by increasing predation and disease. Sea level rise and unstable storm patterns threaten coastal wildlife, while changing precipitation and temperature patterns are drying out habitat, making some habitat more susceptible to wildfires, and other habitat too cold or too hot. These weather changes are creating pressure on wildlife to move from the increasingly inhospitable places they currently occupy to more suitable locations. As wildlife move, human obstacles make their journey harder. Neither federal laws nor private land protection mechanisms, like conservation easements or land trusts, have sufficient elasticity to protect migrating wildlife from interference during their journey to more suitable habitat. This Article’s supposition is that unless flexibility can be found in either public or private law to protect wildlife as it moves, many species of wildlife may not survive. The Article examines how law might be used to protect shifting wildlife habitat needs when it is not known when and where those new needs will arise.

Publication Citation

95 Neb. L. R. 649 (2017)