Non-Resident Hunter Fight Is Intensifying


Published: May - 1998

Nothing may be more important in the US for the hunter who hunts out of state than the disparity in license allocations for out-of-state hunters. This issue is coming to a head because of a series of recent events and cases. The events began in 1996 when New Mexico was forced by litigation to withdraw a law that charged non-resident outfitters a $5,000 fee to operate, and gave preference points to those who hunted with resident guides over those who hunted with non-resident guides. This was principally an out-of-state guides' rights case. Guides who ply their trade from state to state have always been protected from such discriminatory practices because the right to an occupation is protected as a "privilege and immunity" guaranteed to all citizens in all states.

The litigation ended the discrimination against guides from out of state, but that was just the beginning. What followed next was the so-called Terk case in Mexico, which I handled. The Terk case directly involved the rights of non-resident hunters as distinguished from guides from out of state. The precipitating event was a move by the state to overturn this 20-year-old case. Specifically, the state attempted to set aside an injunction prohibiting it from giving non-residents less chance at licenses for bighorn and desert sheep, ibex and oryx than residents. We stopped them from doing so, and in the process we got the Federal Court to confirm two things. First, that the US Constitution Equal Protection clause mandates that states have to have a legitimate reason to discriminate against non-resident hunters in license allocations. Second, that it is unconstitutional to discriminate against out-of-state hunters for the purpose of preferring citizens of the State or because of popular local demand. That was not considered an acceptable reason. Rather, discrimination arising from local popular opinion was the very thing that the Equal Protection Clause was intended to prevent. It is the only case of its kind.

In another case this year, the State of Utah quickly withdrew a law denying non-resident guides and hunters licenses to "pursue" mountain lion and black bear........(continued)

 
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