College of Law

Litigating Predator Management

Litigating Predator Management

DATE: Thursday, November 9 2023
TIME: 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm MST
LOCATION: College of Law and Virtual Event
COST: Free and open to the public.
1 hour CLE (pending).

19th Annual Stegner Center Young Scholar Lecture with Alex Erwin

Litigating Predator Management


Professor Erwin will explore legal challenges to predator hunting. He will taxonomize existing case law and explain why successful challenges to state hunting regimes are difficult and rare. As apex predators are being federally delisted under the Endangered Species Act and returned to state management, there is significant potential for over-harvest. This was seen most recently in Wisconsin in 2021, when nearly a third of all gray wolves in the state were killed over a weekend after the species was temporarily delisted. This work is also motivated by his experiences as a scientist studying the effects of hunting on mountain lion populations and a growing body of scientific literature that is critical of current trends in predator hunting.


Professor John A. (Alex) Erwin is an assistant professor of law at Florida International University College of Law. He earned both a J.D. and a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Arizona. Professor Erwin’s background is in wildlife biology and genetics. He has experience doing field work, wet lab genetics, and bioinformatics, and he has worked with a variety of species, from freshwater mussels to jaguars. For his dissertation, he employed genomic methods to answer practical conservation and wildlife management questions, such as examining the effects of sport hunting on mountain lion populations and aiding the reintroduction of black-tailed prairie dogs back into Arizona.

Combining his legal training with his background as a wildlife biologist, his research is situated at the intersection of environmental law, genetics, and wildlife conservation. His publication record spans both peer-reviewed scientific journals and more traditional law reviews. His research to date has focused on three issues: (1) wildlife conservation and management, particularly through the lens of genetics and evolutionary biology; (2) genetic engineering and related biotechnological developments, specifically as they relate to conservation and environmental protection; and, more broadly, (3) the interplay of science, law, and policy. His most recent article, Building Better Species, was selected for presentation at the Harvard | Stanford | Yale Junior Faculty Forum, the Northwestern, Penn, and Stanford Junior Faculty Forum for Law and STEM, and the Sabin Colloquium for Innovative Environmental Law Scholarship at Columbia Law School. That article was also selected as the winner of the Call for Papers Award at SEALS 2023 and is forthcoming in Cornell Law Review. An earlier article, Hybridizing Law: A Policy for Hybridization Under the Endangered Species Act, was recognized with an Honorable Mention in the 2018 Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review (ELPAR) as one of the top environmental policy-relevant articles from 2016-2017.

The Young Scholars Program is designed to recognize and establish a relationship with promising scholars early in their academic careers. Recipients are selected based on their accomplishments, the quality of their academic work, and their promise in the field of environmental and natural resources law and policy. The Young Scholars Program was founded in 2005, with the generous support of the Cultural Vision Fund, which has provided annual support for this program. Young Scholars join the S.J. Quinney College of Law to deliver a Young Scholar Lecture at the College of Law, a Downtown CLE to practicing attorneys, and to meet with students. The Young Scholar lecture is published in the student-edited Utah Law Review.

The Young Scholar Program is supported by the Cultural Vision Fund.

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The S.J. Quinney College of Law is pleased to provide free CLE opportunities for attorneys. All donations welcome to support our programs.