Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 213–228 | Cite as

Reconsidering Illegal Hunting as a Crime of Dissent: Implication for Justice and Deliberative Uptake

  • Erica von EssenEmail author
  • Michael P. Allen


In this paper, we determine whether illegal hunting should be construed as a crime of dissent. Using the Nordic countries as a case study where protest-driven, illegal hunting of protected wolves is on the rise, we reconsider the crime using principles of civil disobedience. We invoke the conditions of intentionality, nonevasion, dialogic effort, non-violence and appeal to parameters of reasonable disagreement about justice and situate the Nordic illegal hunting phenomenon at a nexus between conscientious objection, assisted disobedience and everyday resistance. This examination leads us to contend that the crime has heretofore received an inadequate response limited to punishment and deterrence. This contention finds support in the worsening predicaments of illegal hunting following harsh sanctions and stigmatization. Although hunters publicize injustices through their crimes, we find that killing wolves as a means to deliberative ends disqualifies hunters’ dissent as legitimate disobedience, creating an obligation of deliberative uptake on the part of society. Nonetheless, in a critical contribution to the field of criminal justice, we argue that it is instead the conditions of deliberative suboptimality experienced by hunters that create this obligation of uptake. Hence, in order to fulfill this obligation, we contend that the burden falls on regulatory agencies to better articulate the justifications for the policies that coerce hunters. We also advocate creating novel institutions to provide hunters with effective opportunities for contesting wildlife conservation directives.


Civil disobedience Illegal hunting Deliberative uptake Justice Crimes of dissent Green criminology 


  1. Abizadeh, A. “Democratic Theory and Border Coercion: No Right to Unilaterally Control Your Own Borders.” Political Theory 36 (2008): 37–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, M. “Effective Opportunity and Democratic Deliberation.” Politics 27 (2) (2007): 83–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen, M. “Civil Disobedience and Terrorism: Testing the Limits of Deliberative Democracy.” Theoria no. 56 (118) (2009): 15–39.Google Scholar
  4. Archer, J.E. “Poaching gangs and violence: the urban-rural divide in nineteenth-century Lancashire.” British Journal of Criminology no. 39 (1) (1999): 25–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Arendt, H. Crises of the Republic. (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1972).Google Scholar
  6. Arts, K., Fischer. A., van der Wal, R. “Common stories of reintroduction: A discourse analysis of documents supporting animal reintroductions to Scotland.” Land Use Policy no. 29 (4) (2012): 911–920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bedau, H.A. “On civil disobedience.” Journal of Philosophy no. 58 (21) (1961): 653–665.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bisi, J., Kurki, S., Svensberg, M. Liukkonen, T. “Human dimensions of wolf (Canis lupus) conflicts in Finland.” European Journal of Wildlife Research no. 53 (4) (2007): 304–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bisi, J., Kurki. S. The wolf debate in Finland: Expectations and objectives for the management of the wolf population at regional and national level. Seinäjoki, University of Helsinki (2008).Google Scholar
  10. Bohman, J. Democracy Across Borders: From Demos to Demoi. (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2007).Google Scholar
  11. Brownlee, K. Conscience and Conviction: The Case for Civil Disobedience. (Oxford Legal Philosophy, 2012).Google Scholar
  12. Brymer, R. The emergence and maintenance of a deviant sub-culture: The case of hunting/poaching subculture. Anthropologica 33, (1991): 177–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dunder, A. Misstänkt träder fram i Lillhärdalfallet “Lagen öppnar för godtycke.”(Jaktojägare, 2014).Google Scholar
  14. European Commission on the Environment. The Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC, 1992).Google Scholar
  15. Evans, J.C. With Respect for Nature: Living as Part of the Natural World, SUNY series in Environmental Philosophy and Ethics. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005).Google Scholar
  16. Filteau, M. “Deterring Defiance: ‘Don’t Give a Poacher a Reason to Poach.’” Journal of Rural Criminology 1 (2012): 236–255.Google Scholar
  17. Forsyth, C., Gramling, R. Wooddell, G. “The game of poaching: Folk crimes in southwest Louisiana.” Society & Natural Resources no. 11 (1) (1998): 25–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Franklin, B.H. Prison Literature in America: The Victim as Criminal and Artist. (Penguin Books, 1998).Google Scholar
  19. Gould, C. “The human right to democracy and its global import,” in Human Rights: The Hard Questions, Eds. Cindy Holder and David Reidy (Cambridge University Press, 2014).Google Scholar
  20. Green, L. Civil Disobedience and Academic Freedom. Osgoode Hall Law Journal 41 (2/3) (2003): 381–405.Google Scholar
  21. Hajer, M., Versteeg, W. “A decade of discourse analysis of environmental politics: Achievements, challenges, perspectives.” Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning no. 7 (3) (2005): 175–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hall, M.R. Guilty But Civilly Disobedient: Reconciling Civil Disobedience and the Rule of Law. Cardozo Law Review 28, (1) (2007).Google Scholar
  23. Hallgren, L., Westberg, L. Adaptive management? Observations of knowledge coordination in the communication practice of Swedish game management. Wildlife Biology (2015). doi: 10.2981/wlb.00005.Google Scholar
  24. Healey, P. “The Pragmatic Tradition in Planning Thought.” Journal of Planning Education and Research no. 28 (3) (2009): 277–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Holmes, G. “Protection, Politics and Protest: Understanding Resistance to Conservation.” Conservation and Society 5 (2007): 184–201.Google Scholar
  26. Holmgren, C. Vargjakten kan bli fråga för EU-domstolen. (Sveriges Radio, 2013).Google Scholar
  27. Hommen, S. Vargtiken i Junsele – följ ärendet (Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, 2014).Google Scholar
  28. Jönsson, J. 2014. Ny Eftersöksbojkott i Vargens Spår. (Vargfakta, 2014).Google Scholar
  29. Liberg, O., Chapron, G.,Wabakken, P., Pedersen, H.C., Thompson, H., Sand, H. “Shoot, shovel and shut up: cryptic poaching slows restoration of a large carnivore in Europe.” Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biological Sciences, 282 (1799) (2012): 910–915.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Linnell, J.D. “From conflict to co-existence: Insights from multi-disciplinary research into the relationship between people, large carnivores and institutions.” (LCIE, European Commission, 2013).Google Scholar
  31. Lovell, J. Crimes of Dissent: Civil Disobedience, Criminal Justice and the Politics of Conscience. (New York: New York University Press, 2009).Google Scholar
  32. Matti, S., Sandström, A. “The Rationale Determining Advocacy Coalitions: Examining Coordination Networks and Corresponding Beliefs.” Policy Studies Journal 39 (3) (2011): 385–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Matti, S., Sandström, A. “The Defining Elements of Advocacy Coalitions: Continuing the Search for Explanations for Coordination and Coalition Structures.” Review of Policy Research 30 (2) (2013): 240–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McCauley. C., Moskalenko, S. “Mechanisms of Political Radicalization: Pathways Toward Terrorism.” Terrorism and Political Violence no. 20 (3) (2008): 415–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McCausland, C., O’Sullivan, S. Brenton, S. “Trespass, Animals and Democratic Engagement.” Res Publica no. 19 (3) (2013): 205–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mischi, J. “Contested rural activities: Class, politics and shooting in the French countryside.” Ethnography no. 14 (1) (2013): 64–84. doi: 10.1177/1466138112440980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Moriarty, P.V., Woods, M. “Hunting Does Not Equal Predation: An Instance of the Compatibility of Animal Welfare and Environmental Ethics.” Environmental Ethics 19 (1997): 391–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nurse, A. “Policing Wildlife: Perspectives on Criminality in Wildlife Crime.” (Papers from the British Criminology Conference, London: British Society of Criminology, Volume 11, 2011.).Google Scholar
  39. Oinaala, S. Suden tappaja. Me susirajan tällä puolella olemme kovin huolissamme petokannoista. Niin on sotkamolainen Kari Tikkunenkin. Helsingin Sanomat. (2012).Google Scholar
  40. Palmer, C.A. “What (if anything) do we owe wild animals?,” Between the Species 16 (1) (2013): 15–38.Google Scholar
  41. Partridge, E. “What Do We Owe Posterity?,” Introduction to Responsibilities to Future Generations, Ed. Ernest Partridge (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1981).Google Scholar
  42. Passas, N. “Political crime and political offender: Theory and practice.” Liverpool Law Review no. 8 (1) (1986): 23–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Peterson, A. “Policing Conscientious Politics at Transnational Summits: Darth Vader or the Keystone Cops” in The Policing of Transnational Protest, Eds. D. Della Porta., A Peterson and H. Reiter (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006: 97–116).Google Scholar
  44. Peterson, M.N. An approach for demonstrating the social legitimacy of hunting. Wildlife Society Bulletin 32 (2004): 310–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pott, M. Insamling för misstänkta Jägare. (Jaktojägare, 2014).Google Scholar
  46. Rawls, J. A Theory of Justice. Revised ed. (Belknap Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  47. Raz, J. The Authority of Law. Essays on Law and Morality. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979).Google Scholar
  48. Rousseau, J.J. The Social Contract or Principles of Political Right. Translated by G.D.H. Cole (Public Domain, 1762).Google Scholar
  49. Rytterstedt, E. När stockholmarna åkt hem kan vi släppa lite på reglerna En analys av norrländska jägares kulturella förklaringar till jaktbrott. (Bachelor thesis at the Department of Sociology, Lund University, 2013).Google Scholar
  50. Sabl, A. “Looking Forward to Justice: Rawlsian Civil Disobedience and its Non-Rawlsian Lessons.” Journal of Political Philosophy no. 9 (3) (2001): 331–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Salenvall, P. Den regionaliserade rovdjursförvaltningen: Om demokratisk legitimitet. (Bachelor thesis at the Luleå Tekniska Universitet, 2011).Google Scholar
  52. Sandström, C., Ericsson, G. Om svenskars inställning till rovdjursförvaltning. Report 2009: 2 Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science (2009).Google Scholar
  53. Scott, J.C. Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. (Yale University Press, 1985).Google Scholar
  54. Scruton, R. Animal Rights and Wrongs. (Claridge Press, 2000).Google Scholar
  55. Sethi, S.A., Hilborn, R. “Interactions between poaching and management policy affect marine reserves as conservation tools.” Biological Conservation no. 141 (2) (2008): 506–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sjölander-Lindqvist, A. Social-Natural Landscape Reorganised: Swedish Forest-edge Farmers and Wolf Recovery. Conservation and Society 7 (2) (2009): 130–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sjölander-Lindqvist, A., Karlsson, M., Cinque, S. Att jaga varg: En studie av 2010 års licensjakt i Sverige. Report for Center for Public Sector Research, Gothenberg University (2010).Google Scholar
  58. Sjölander-Lindqvist, A. “Predators in ‘Agri-environmental’ Sweden: Rural Heritage and Resistance Against Wolf Propagation,” in Survival and Sustainability, Eds. Hüseyin Gökçekus, Umut Türker and James W. La Moreaux. Springer Berlin Heidelberg (2011): 15–27.Google Scholar
  59. Smart, B. “Defining Civil Disobedience,” in Civil Disobedience in Focus, Ed. Hugo A. Bedau (London: Routledge, 1991).Google Scholar
  60. Smith, W. “Policing Civil Disobedience.” Political Studies no. 60 (4) (2012): 826–842.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Thompson, E.P. Whigs and Hunters: The origin of the Black Act. (London: Breviary Stuff Publications, 1975).Google Scholar
  62. Tillhagen, C.H. Allmogejakt i Sverige. (Stockholm: LTs förlag, 1987).Google Scholar
  63. Vanderheiden, S. “Eco-terrorism or Justified Resistance? Radical Environmentalism and the ‘War on Terror.’” Politics & Society no. 33 (3) (2005): 425–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. von Essen, E. “Democracy and Sustainable Development in Wildlife Management: From ‘stakeholders’ to ‘citizens’ in the Swedish wolf restoration process (Master’s thesis at the Uppsala University, 2012).Google Scholar
  65. von Essen, E, Hansen, H., Nordström Källström, H, Peterson, M.N. and Peterson, T. “Deconstructing the Poaching Phenomenon: A Review of Typologies for Understanding Illegal Hunting.” British Journal of Criminology, 54 (4) (2014a): 632–651.Google Scholar
  66. von Essen, E., Hansen, H.P., Nordström Källström, H., Peterson, M.N., Peterson, T. “The Radicalization of Rural Resistance: How Hunting Counterpublics in the Nordic Countries Contribute to Illegal Hunting.” Journal of Rural Studies. SI: Rural Crime. (2014b).Google Scholar
  67. Wolff, R.P. In Defense of Anarchism. (Harper & Row, 1970).Google Scholar
  68. Zimmerman, B., Nelson, L., Wabakken, P., Sand, H. Liberg, O. “Behavioral responses of wolves to roads: scale-dependent ambivalence”. Behavioral Ecology (2014).Google Scholar
  69. Zinn, H. Disobedience and Democracy: Nine Fallacies on Law and Order. (New York: Random House/Vintage, 1968).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Communication Division, Department of Urban and Rural DevelopmentSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyEast Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityUSA

Personalised recommendations