McGrath: States Have Right to Limit Non-Resident Hunting Permits
HELENA – Attorney General Mike McGrath recently filed a friend of the court brief asking the United States Supreme Court to consider an Arizona case involving the legality of limiting the number of hunting permits available to non-residents.
Twenty-one other states signed on in support of Montana’s brief, which contends that the 9th Circuit’s ruling jeopardizes the ability of states like Montana to conserve, promote and develop wild life resources within their borders.
“Without the support Montanans give and the sacrifices they make for our wildlife, no one would enjoy the quality of hunting our state offers,” McGrath said. “The importance of this issue for states throughout the West requires the U.S. Supreme Court to get involved.”
The brief notes that at least 23 states in addition to Arizona impose limits on the number of non-resident hunting permits, and that at least 32 states impose a greater fee on some non-resident hunting permits than resident permits. According to the brief, “differential fees and limits on non-resident hunting permits remain vital to the conservation and development of wildlife throughout our Nation.”
The brief also argues that the Supreme Court should reconsider the lower court’s ruling because the decision:
- conflicts with other court decisions that have rejected similar arguments that big game hunting constitutes interstate commerce, and
- inappropriately replaces the courts’ historic recognition of a state’s legitimate need for wildlife management with a strict analysis of big game hunting as a commercial industry comparable to mining or commercial fishing.
In August, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Arizona’s restriction on the number of hunting permits issued to out-of-state hunters on the ground that it violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The 1991 Arizona law allotted 10 percent of bull elk and antlered deer hunting tags to non-residents.
Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming joined in signing Montana’s brief.