The act referenced is the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997. The particular suit in question would have allowed the state to vaccinate elk against brucellosis on the National Elk Refuge, but that is not the point here. "What I'm curious about is how this decision might apply in a broader context, Stapleton writes. "For example, does this mean that we can expect the feds to start making wildlife management decisions, such as setting harvest objectives, determining carrying capacity, etc. on these federal lands? Or here's another question: How might this ruling affect Western states' abilities to discriminate in the allocation of non-resident permits? I'm not sure that the feds are the answer to wildlife management because, although a long way from perfect, state biologists seem closer to the pulse of the wildlife problems out West than federal biologists. Also, state biologists are not as influenced by political pressures from antis living thousands of miles away. "Still, the Refuge Improvement Act of 1997 has forced federal and state officials to work together to resolve disputes. Perhaps that spirit of cooperation will spill over into the permit-allocation debate and result in a new recognition of non-residents' `rights' to hunt public land out West. That could have a big impact on everyone - residents and non-residents alike - because the vast majority of the huntable land out West is federal land of one sort or another."
(Editor Note: At press time, we sent the above note to John J. Jackson, III of Conservation........(continued)