Understanding Wildlife Animal Cruelty

Understanding Wildlife Animal Cruelty
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2020-10-29
Unit 1Slide Deck: Understanding Wildlife Animal Cruelty
Unit 2Transcript: Understanding Wildlife Animal Cruelty
Unit 3Workbook: Understanding Wildlife Animal Cruelty
Unit 4Recording: Understanding Wildlife Animal Cruelty

Animal law has gone leaps and bounds over the last few years in ensuring that animals are afforded protections from forms of cruelty. There’s still work to be done though, as for some, these protections are construed to only extend to companion and farm animals. Like their domesticated counterparts, wildlife must also be given the same protection from cruelty – how this is happening so far in the US is the core of this webinar.

David Rosengard is back on the Justice Clearinghouse to unpack the application of animal cruelty laws to wildlife. David is a Senior Staff Attorney in the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) where he works in the criminal justice system on behalf of animal cruelty victims urging courts to reach decisions that address the needs of the animals and help animals achieve the legal status of crime victims.

Some of the topics discussed in this session are:

  • The long history of legal issues concerning wildlife.
  • The types of property status that wildlife may hold and the status overlap as a result of their relationship with humans and the legal system’s definitions.
  • The challenge when it comes to distinguishing which animals fall under the category ‘wildlife’.
  • The different crimes relating to wildlife crimes, its distinction based whose interests are in the forefront, its examples, and how categories may cross-over.
  • The legal concepts Malum In Se and Malum Prohibitum and its critical role in understanding the charges that may be used for wildlife cases.
  • The Malum In Se nature of cruelty crimes, the jurisdiction that decides cases, the types of cruelty crimes based on the conduct involved, exemptions to cruelty law, and examples for these.
  • The intersection of animal cruelty and hunting and the defining characteristic of animal cruelty by committing abuse and inflicting pain and suffering which may be applied even in ‘lawful’ hunting.
  • Case studies that demonstrate:
    • How to prove cruelty by looking at injury, pain, and suffering that the animal is subjected to.
    • How cruelty cases (crime to the individual animal/Malum In Se) may be charged alongside violation of wildlife law (crime to society or the animal species/Malum Prohibitum) if there’s proof of inflicting pain/suffering to the animal.
    • Legal loopholes in cases where animal fighting is justified as part of hunting.
  • The importance of looking at animals as sentient creatures that can experience pain and fear and must be protected by society from cruelty and suffering.
  • The responsibility of humans advocating animals to raise the possibility of likewise charging cruelty in crimes involving wildlife.

Questions from the audience were about:

  • Distinguishing feral cats from domestic cats and how the law can deal with them.
  • What private citizens can do if a non-targeted endangered species is caught in a lawful trap.
  • Legislation that protects reptiles and fishes from cruelty and animal fighting crimes.
  • Development in the Kill ‘Em All Boyz cases.


Webinars in this Series with the ALDF include:


Audience Comments

  • “I’ve become a huge David Rosengard fan through your webinars! He is an engaging and interesting speaker who is clearly both very intelligent and very knowledgeable. And while it’s been a long time since my 1L year, I love a good Pierson v Post discussion!” — Ann
  • “The information was excellent, well documented, interesting, and professionally delivered.” — Belinda
  • “The most valuable thing I can take away from this webinar is just how to break down what is considered a “wild animal.” I never thought of the break down in so much detail before and now that I am hearing it, it all makes sense.” — Brenda
  • “Clarification between “Malum In Se and Malum Prohibitum” (totally new to me–but I’m not a lawyer). This was just one grand slam webinar by JCH! Thank you so much!” — Marilyn
  • “The case examples at the end and the application of the existing law were real highlights in this presentation. Thanks you!” — Suzanne
  • “Excellent speaker – the entire presentation was valuable and informative.” — Annoula



View our Animal Welfare Webinar  Schedule and Recordings



This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.




This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.






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