Pierson v. Post

3 Cai. R. 175, 1805 N.Y. LEXIS 311



Pursuit alone vests no property or right in a huntsman; and even pursuit, accompanied with wounding, is equally ineffectual for that purpose, unless the animal be actually taken. 


Plaintiff hunter was out with his hounds chasing a wild fox when defendant interceptor, knowing the fox was being chased, shot and killed it. Plaintiff brought an action against defendant for trespass, and the trial court ruled in his favor. Defendant appealed, arguing that plaintiff had no rights in the fox merely because he was chasing it. The court reversed, holding that mere pursuit did not give plaintiff a legal right to the fox, but that it became the property of defendant, who intercepted and killed him. The court held that no matter how uncourteous or unkind defendant's conduct was toward plaintiff, it produced no injury or damage for which a legal remedy could be applied.


Did Post, by the pursuit with his hounds iacquire such a right to, or property in, the fox?




Puffendorf defines  occupancy of beasts feroe naturoe, to be the actual corporeal possession of them, and Bynkershock is cited as coinciding in this definition. It is indeed with hesitation that Puffendorf affirms that a wild beast mortally wounded or greatly maimed, cannot be fairly intercepted by another, whilst the pursuit of the person inflicting the wound continues. The foregoing authorities are decisive to show that mere pursuit gave Post no legal right to the fox, but that he became the property of Pierson, who intercepted and killed him.

The court reversed the decision in favor of plaintiff hunter because mere pursuit did not give plaintiff a legal right to the fox. The court held that the fox became the property of defendant interceptor when he killed it, and his uncourteous conduct did not produce an injury or damage for which there could be a legal remedy.

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