Barrett v. State

116 N.E. 99 (1917)

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Barrett v. State

New York Court of Appeals
116 N.E. 99 (1917)

Facts

Beavers were declared protected from hunting in 1900 by the state of New York (the state) (defendant). In 1904 the state enacted a law prohibiting any person from molesting or disturbing wild beavers or beaver dams. The state authorized the forest, fish, and game commission (the commission) to purchase and release several beavers into the wild, including in an area adjacent to the land of William Barrett (plaintiff). Barrett’s land was valuable for building and its forest views. Beavers were known to be destructive, and several trees were felled and destroyed on and around Barrett’s property. Barrett sued the state, arguing it could not protect an animal known to be highly destructive in the same way that it could protect less destructive animals. Further, Barrett argued that the prohibition on disturbing beavers or their dams unlawfully barred him from protecting his property and constituted an invalid exercise of the state’s police power. Finally, Barrett claimed the release of destructive animals in the vicinity of his property by the state entitled him to damages. The court of claims agreed with Barrett, and the judgment was affirmed by the Appellate Division. The state appealed the Appellate Division’s order.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Andrews, J.)

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