Resident vs. Nonresident

Should out-of-staters have the same access to your state as you do?

Disputes over the right to hunt in a given area reach back as far as England's feudal system. It's a topic that is heating up across the country as sportsmen struggle to find places to hunt in a land where access is increasingly limited. The battle pits resident hunters against nonresidents. A recent case in Arizona threatens to blow the door on the issue wide open as a federal appeals court ruled its quota on nonresident licenses unconstitutional. Following is a look at both sides of the issue from two sportsmen who have found themselves squarely opposed in this battle for access.Outdoor Life Online Editor

Nonresident Discrimination Must Be Stopped
By John J. Jackson III

When the conservation movement began around the turn of the last century, one of its basic principles was that wildlife belonged to all of our nation's citizens, not just those who owned land. Without question, game agencies should allocate hunting licenses to residents and nonresidents equally. By ensuring that nonresidents get a fair chance at licenses, states not only increase the amount of revenue available to support wildlife conservation, but they also help strengthen their local economies.

License fees are the single largest source of revenue to fund projects that benefit conservation. License fees and excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment provide three quarters of state conservation budget dollars. Nonresidents are willing and able to pay more to hunt in a state than residents. In states like Wyoming, 80 percent of the wildlife budget comes from nonresidents, who take only 20 percent of the game. The greater the number of nonresident licenses, the greater the revenue for our wildlife agencies.

Discrimination against nonresidents exists simply because residents don't want to compete for access to land. Quotas are designed to reduce that competition. And ultimately, wildlife and habitat suffer.

Shut Out
Big-game hunting skyrocketed in popularity in the second half of the 20th century, with the number of hunters tripling between 1955 and 1975. As a result, a variety of strategies were developed to cope with the demand, a move that shorted nonresidents. The primary question was not what the quota should be or how long the season should run; it was how and to whom licenses should be allocated. That is a local political decision made by residents. Nonresidents have no say in it. Nonresidents and outfitters who share their clients' interests finally turned to the courts for relief in the late 1960s and early '70s.

Nonresidents argued that the discrimination violated the privilege and immunity clause of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees every citizen equal privileges from state to state. The courts rejected that argument on the basis that "recreational" hunting was not the kind of "privilege" that our country's forefathers intended. This culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Baldwin v. Montana Fish and Game Commission, which confirmed that the privilege and immunity clause did not protect "recreational hunting." That has led to the all too common statement that hunting is not a protected right.

[pagebreak] **One Nation **
Big-game hunting has continued to grow. Today, one of every seven hunters travels out of state. Two million nonresident hunters strain America's airports and highways each fall. In the late '90s, this growth caused a new round of litigation, this time centered on the Constitution's interstate commerce clause, which reserves to Congress the authority to regulate trade between the states.

Many states legislate that the state owns the wildlife, and that this "ownership" empowers them to discriminate. That's a legal fiction that was overturned a quarter century ago in Hughes v. Oklahoma. The U.S. Supreme Court had long held that wildlife is a natural resource that is owned by the nati. Even if game were owned by the state, discrimination through the allocation of licenses is prohibited, lest we be 50 feuding nations rather than joined together as one. Furthermore, in the West, much of the land is owned by all Americans through the U.S. government.

Changing Tide
Finally, the debate has come to a head. In the recent case Montoya v. Shroufe, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that Arizona's cap on the percentage of nonresident deer and elk licenses was "overt" discrimination against interstate commerce. The decision placed the burden on the state to justify its unequal treatment of nonresidents and to prove that there is no less restrictive alternative means of allocating licenses.

The distribution of our natural resources should not depend upon where you hang your hat. We are one nation. If we remove the barriers to the free movement of people and share resources more equally, America will be stronger and our wildlife more secure.

John J. Jackson III is legal counsel and chairman of Conservation Force, a leading hunting advocacy organization for hunters who travel.

[pagebreak] States Should Limit Nonresident Hunters
By Don Higgins

Tim Fulmer remembers the days when he freely walked the woods near his home in Pike County, Ill. Hunting, fishing and trapping were a part of life, and Fulmer was lucky enough to live in an outdoorsman's paradise where these interests could be carried out to their fullest.

Around 1990 changes started taking place that eventually ruined and even ended the outdoor experience for many Pike County residents. Word of the big whitetail bucks being taken by area hunters spread. This in turn caused hunters outside Illinois to begin showing up to try their luck at tagging a giant whitetail buck. The influx of nonresidents began slowly, but as each season passed, the trend grew, spawning a new industry in the area: outfitting. In fact, from 1991 through 1996, the number of nonresident archery deer hunters rose more than 400 percent in Illinois and more than doubled again between 1996 and 2000. Many of these hunters ended up in Pike. Before the 1990s had ended, the county stood as the perfect example of why states must limit nonresidents.

Vital Management Tool
One of the most important methods of wildlife management is regulating harvest by controlling the number of hunters. If for no other reason, nonresidents need to be limited as a management tool to ensure the proper harvest of game. Once again, Pike County serves as an example of how things can go wrong. Throngs of nonresident hunters show up there in search of bucks with large antlers. Many of these hunters aren't interested in taking does. Tim Fulmer has seen the result of this practice firsthand. He estimates the buck-to-doe ratio in his area to be at least 20 does for every antlered buck.

How can the blame for this situation be traced to nonresident hunters? It's a matter of access and game selection. The competition for land has spawned a leasing frenzy. Local conservation officers estimate that as much as half of Pike County is commercially leased. Some outfitters have leased property totaling in the tens of thousands of acres. This land is off-limits to all but paying clients. Thus, the does are allowed to live and reproduce in virtual sanctuaries that are closed to local hunters, many of whom would be content to put some venison in the freezer.

[pagebreak] Too Little, Too Late
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recognized these problems and in 2001 enacted several regulations to address them. Outfitters are now regulated and must submit a written management plan to the DNR.

Nonresident archery deer hunters are now limited to 12,843 tags, the number of nonresident archery permits sold in 2000, the last year of over-the-counter sales. Like many resident whitetail hunters, Tim Fulmer sees this as "too little, too late." The damage has already been done, and these measures won't correct a bad situation. Professional game managers have had virtually no control over large areas for too many years.

Besides management problems, unlimited nonresident access creates a host of social concerns. It turns prime hunting locations into playgrounds for the wealthy. Leasing, outfitting and the purchase of land for expensive, exclusive hunting all work to squeeze out the average, local hunter.

A House Divided
Those who oppose limits are often hunters with the financial resources to hunt out of state or people looking to make money from them. Pike County has become a battleground where families now stand divided. Fulmer has a sister and brother-in-law with whom he rarely speaks. They have chosen to lease their land to an outfitter, thus closing it to friends and family. This is not uncommon. I've heard countless stories of divided families and longtime friends turned into enemies. Plenty of hunters have simply given up the sport because they lack a place to hunt.

One argument of those who oppose limits is based on their freedoms as Americans. I simply ask, "Freedom to do what?" Freedom to end the outdoor experience for another person in his backyard so that you can show up to hunt for one week a year? What about the rights of the local man working a minimum-wage job who wants to put some meat on the table or introduce his children to the outdoors? Do we want a society where hunting is reserved for the wealthy, as it is in Europe?

We owe it to the game we pursue and our fellow hunters to act responsibly. A big part of this responsibility falls to the people who make their homes in the areas we hunt as well as the professional game managers who make the regulations there. Cutting them out of the picture will only hurt wildlife. Limiting nonresident hunters is a necessary regulation with which we can all live.

_Don Higgins of Shelby County, Ill., is director of the Illinois Bowhunters Society, which has fought alongside other Illinois sportsmen's groups to secure limits on nonresident bowhunters. _

[pagebreak]

Nonresidents Win in Arizona
The Arizona Game and Fish Department complied with a court order in July that forced the agency to begin authorizing an additional 800 permits to nonresident deer and elk hunters in 2004. The action was taken after U.S. District Judge Robert Broomfield in Phoenix ruled that the state's policy of limiting nonresident hunters was discriminatory and violated the interstate commerce clause of the United States Constitution.

A group of outfitters who brought suit against the state originally lost the case when Broomfield ruled in 200year of over-the-counter sales. Like many resident whitetail hunters, Tim Fulmer sees this as "too little, too late." The damage has already been done, and these measures won't correct a bad situation. Professional game managers have had virtually no control over large areas for too many years.

Besides management problems, unlimited nonresident access creates a host of social concerns. It turns prime hunting locations into playgrounds for the wealthy. Leasing, outfitting and the purchase of land for expensive, exclusive hunting all work to squeeze out the average, local hunter.

A House Divided
Those who oppose limits are often hunters with the financial resources to hunt out of state or people looking to make money from them. Pike County has become a battleground where families now stand divided. Fulmer has a sister and brother-in-law with whom he rarely speaks. They have chosen to lease their land to an outfitter, thus closing it to friends and family. This is not uncommon. I've heard countless stories of divided families and longtime friends turned into enemies. Plenty of hunters have simply given up the sport because they lack a place to hunt.

One argument of those who oppose limits is based on their freedoms as Americans. I simply ask, "Freedom to do what?" Freedom to end the outdoor experience for another person in his backyard so that you can show up to hunt for one week a year? What about the rights of the local man working a minimum-wage job who wants to put some meat on the table or introduce his children to the outdoors? Do we want a society where hunting is reserved for the wealthy, as it is in Europe?

We owe it to the game we pursue and our fellow hunters to act responsibly. A big part of this responsibility falls to the people who make their homes in the areas we hunt as well as the professional game managers who make the regulations there. Cutting them out of the picture will only hurt wildlife. Limiting nonresident hunters is a necessary regulation with which we can all live.

_Don Higgins of Shelby County, Ill., is director of the Illinois Bowhunters Society, which has fought alongside other Illinois sportsmen's groups to secure limits on nonresident bowhunters. _

[pagebreak]

Nonresidents Win in Arizona
The Arizona Game and Fish Department complied with a court order in July that forced the agency to begin authorizing an additional 800 permits to nonresident deer and elk hunters in 2004. The action was taken after U.S. District Judge Robert Broomfield in Phoenix ruled that the state's policy of limiting nonresident hunters was discriminatory and violated the interstate commerce clause of the United States Constitution.

A group of outfitters who brought suit against the state originally lost the case when Broomfield ruled in 200