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


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.

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Correspondence to Erica von Essen.

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von Essen, E., Allen, M.P. Reconsidering Illegal Hunting as a Crime of Dissent: Implication for Justice and Deliberative Uptake. Criminal Law, Philosophy 11, 213–228 (2017).

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