Latest On That All-Important Arizona Court Ruling


Published: October - 2004

The Ninth US District Court's ruling that Arizona's 10 percent cap on nonresident permits was unconstitutional has received a great deal of coverage in this column. The reason is simple. It may well be one of the most important hunting-related decisions in recent years. That's particularly true as regards hunting out West. In western states, it is common for game commissions to restrict the number of permits issued to nonresidents through caps. Now that such caps are illegal, other states are watching Arizona's response with great interest. I made a number of calls to determine what some western states were doing to address the ruling; the general answer was "watch and wait." So, whatever happens in Arizona will likely be the springboard for actions in other states. Residents are understandably upset, to say the least. Some are very firm in their belief that this ruling will kill hunting forever. Others see it as a blatant attempt to steal permits for hunting game that they view as "theirs." Little credence is given to the rights of nonresidents, except by the courts. There is also a great deal of misinformation being spread with one goal in mind - to create as much hostility as possible. The unfortunate thing is that this issue didn't have to get this far, nor get this volatile. The original suit went on for years, with little progress in conflict resolution. Several meetings were held to achieve some compromise, but the parties made no progress, so it was left to the courts. It is my understanding that a compromise would have been acceptable by the Plaintiffs, but there was no movement by the Arizona Game & Fish Department. I have been told by more than one resident hunter that it is not "fair" that nonresidents receive the same number of permits as residents. I agree! Fortunately, that is not what the court decision dictated. The essence of the court's decision is that nonresidents be given equal opportunity to draw a permit. That is to say, that everyone should be in the same pot when the drawing........(continued)
 
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