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Joined: 08/01/2004
Posts: 7
USO and your elk hunting rights.

As many of you may know, United States Outfitters (USO) has recently sued
the State of AZ over their cap on non-resident tags for trophy elk and N.
AZ deer. They are currently in the process of suing Nevada over the same.
They will almost certainly bring the same suit against CA, NM (their home
state), MT, CO, and UT. This will most certainly be followed by
non-resident tag fee challenges as well.

I want to make perfectly clear that the residents of AZ do not hold
anything against non-resident hunters. The cap has long been held to be
the most effective method of ensuring a fair and equitable draw for
everyone, while allowing the most effective management of AZ's wildlife.
The effectiveness of AZ game management can be seen in the record books,
see for yourself where the world record Elk and Whitetail deer come from.
USO would have you believe that they are being deprived of monetary gain
by not having the same chance as a resident, due to the value of the
Elk's hide and antlers-thus invoking the Constitution's protection of Fair
Commerce.

What you may not know, is USO, and many of it's guides, and it's owner's
husband, are currently under investigation or currently fighting several
felony game violations. In other words, they do not abide by the ethics
and behavior long established as appropriate for hunting.

In addition, AZ has long tried to maintain hunting opportunities for ALL
Americans, regardless of financial status. Until this ruling, an AZ elk
hunt was affordable to the majority of hunters throughout the United
States. Now, the AZ Fish and Game Commission will be forced to consider
several rule changes in order to bring game management back into balance.
This will including options like making the sale, transport, or possession
out of state of AZ game animal products illegal (this will eliminate USO's
argument), depriving many AZ residents and out of state residents from an
important source of revenue. Other options include eliminating out of
state hunting of trophy animals completely, increasing the cost of
non-resident tags, or requiring attendance of in-state hunter-safety
courses which will increase the difficulty level for potential out of
state hunters.

If you dislike seeing the potential co opting of States Rights to manage
their wildlife by the Federal Government, elimination of hunting
opportunities for the residents of states who have the most invested in
wildlife, and the perception of excessive greed by one of the biggest
guide and outfitting services in America, please contact USO and let them
know that You don't like what they are doing. Also, if you have
considered a hunt with USO, instead try a local outfitter in whatever
state you were planning your hunt in.

USO can be contacted at:
info@huntuso.com

or at their website:

http://www.huntuso.com/

Thank you.

Location: Utah
Joined: 02/24/2003
Posts: 596
USO and your elk hunting rights.

You're right, this is a dark cloud coming fast to resident hunters in the west. I'm not against non-res tags but there should only be a limited amount of tags given out. Yes the animals are on public land but they belong to the state so residents should have better odds.

If USO gets their way you can count on hunting trophy units basically once in a lifetime in your own state. Those who can't afford hunting other states will be all but done when it comes to trophy units. The general tags may even become difficult to get.

I could go on and on about this and as the thread develops I'm sure I'll more to say. But for now I have e-mailed George Taulman, Primos, Realtree, Jim Zumbo and Christensen Arms. George was an @$$. Primos, Realtree, and Christensen Arms have all pulled their sponsorships from USO. Jim Zumbo said he drew an Arizona tag but will not use it this year.

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Joined: 08/01/2004
Posts: 7
USO and your elk hunting rights.

Thanks! You know, it's amazing. Montoya sent a canned reply to a couple of people's questions about this, but it was obviously less than completely truthful. Other than that, they have been making some very scathing and insulting replies. Oh well. It's interesting to me that George is listed all over the website as the owner. But on all official paperwork, his wife is the owner. Hmmmm, makes you think.

Eric

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2002
Posts: 2973
USO and your elk hunting rights.

This is a complex issue and both sides have made it par for course to sensationalize.

I believe AZ and NM have become way to restrictive to non-residents and many western states are following them down-hole. This is simply not fair, we are not a balkanization of states but rather the united states of america, and protectionist residents in all western states have been making a universal grab over the last few decades to push out non-residents and push up non-residents costs.

What if national parks and states parks were managed in the same way? Only 10% of the non-residents could go see RMNP or Yellowstone or Denali and the rest went to their respective state residents. I mean, what the heck, why not, they reside within the states borders, so they should unquestionably govern the parks.

That would be asinine, but yet the arguement is no different for non-resident hunting. State elitest like to say game belongs to the states; hogwash, it belongs to the people of the USA, that's it. Left to their own devices I do believe states will eventually completely push out non-residents (10% is just about there), simply because it is an unbounded system where non-residents have no voice, other than the businesses that profit from them. We like to talk about checks and balances in our government, but their are no checks on DNR's when it comes to quotas for non-residents.

I'm applaud USO for challenging this system and paying for it out of their pocket. Whatever their downsides may be it takes balls to dispense with the chit-chat, step up to the plate, and fight the government.

Now for the downsides.

Federalization of game management is bad news for hunters. Federalization could open the door to a fair non-resident system state-wide, but it will also open an attack point for anti-hunters. If western states would just leave NR participation between 15-40% depending on unit and draw type, eveybody (most everybody) is happy. Some states just don't get it though.

Where do you draw the line on non-resident participation? 10% or less is lame. 40% or more is not fair to residents in my mind. I am concerned that a universal victory for USO could lead to a federal system that lets non-residents run the floor. A complete flip-flop.

So in conclusion, I support someone fighting what I feel is becoming a regular habit in western states to make non-residents second class citizens. On the other hand, now that this has been thrown to the courts, I'm concerned that eventually it might do more harm to hunting than good.

bitmasher's picture
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2002
Posts: 2973
USO and your elk hunting rights.

P.S., for those that have no idea what this thread is about, check this out:

http://startribune.com/stories/533/4902049.html

Also notes that USO isn't the only one that thinks non-residents caps just might be unconstitutional.

P.S.S. The AZ GFP has proven to be quite savy (and stubborn). I fully expect an appeal (again) to the supreme court. This time, hopefully, the supreme court will hear it.

Location: Utah
Joined: 02/24/2003
Posts: 596
USO and your elk hunting rights.

Fact #1: Federal lands are funded by federal money.
Fact #2: Federal money come from federal taxes that everyone pays.
Conclusion: Everyone has equal rights to federal land.

Fact #3: Elk herds are managed by each state.
Fact #4: The officials who make decisions about management are elected either directly or indirectly by the citizens of that state.
Fact #5: Elk herd management is paid nearly in its entirety from state funds.
Fact #6: The state is responsible both by authority and financially to investigate all wildlife crimes.
Fact #7: The state is repsonsible both by authority and financially to give out tags.
Fact #8: Once again the state has a responsibility to pay officers to patrol, have roadblocks, and check tags while out in the field.
Fact #9: Biologists are on the states payroll.
Fact #10: Those funds come from the state budget.
Fact #11: The descisions, blood, sweat and tears for game amangement comes from locals.
Conclusion: A state should have the right to give a great majority of tags to its own people.

Alternative: Everyone has equal right to the animals that live in the US. Game management goes federal. Decisions about how many tags we get comes from Washington. That means the anti's will be sitting on the front steps of whoevers office rallying, maybe the senate. Now instead of having 50 offices across the nation we've made it easy for them because now there is only one. Now being from Colorado you have no preference and your odds will sky rocket. You'll have people coming out of the wood work, who because of tough odds and only a mild drive towards hunting, will start applying in your state.

With everything that is going on in Washington, who wants Washington running your game management? Ok so maybe the charge stays in the state. Well we better be getting some Federal money out of the deal, and I guarantee locals are going to care a lot less about game management.

And what about when the odds have increased in your state because everyone is doing the ole swapperoo from state to state and you are competing with 5,000 people from New York, 1,000 people from California, 500 people from Virginia, well you get the idea. What about the guy who can't afford to hunt another state? Year after year he'll put in for a premium tag for his own backyard where he's grown up only to get an unsuccessful letter and watch some pompous easterner who could give a crap about the state he's in shoot the elk. After 25 years so of drawing (Right now it's already averaging 10-12) he'll finally get his tag only to never draw again or he'll be too old to use it after another 25 years of waiting.

And those who have a lot of money? Will hire someone like USO to put them in every single drawing in the West. They may skip a year or two without getting a tag but some years they may get 2 tags, maybe even 3. Their hunting experience will go through the roof because they'll be hunting premium areas nearly every year. So premium hunts will all but be a rich man's game. And a not so rich man getting a tag will be like playin lotto.

Yeah, this is a great idea! Way to go USO and supporters!

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Joined: 08/01/2004
Posts: 7
USO and your elk hunting rights.

RBH-thanks for that reply! You hit on every point I was going to make. I think unless we can negate this ruling, we will see the day when our game is managed by DC. Until this court case, just about anybody in America could afford to hunt a trophy bull in AZ. My biggest fear is that this will lead down the path of hunting becoming a rich man's sport. Anybody who has ever hunted in GE understands what can happen here.

Eric

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2002
Posts: 2973
USO and your elk hunting rights.

Taxes seem to be the only logical standing that states can claim ownership to the game. Fine, lets examine this further.

1.) Not all states use state taxes to fund game management. In these states, license revenue and donations pay for all management. Those that use the resource, pay for it.

2.) If taxes are the soul ground for claiming ownership, I believe it would be pretty easy to show that out-of-state sources contribute more to AZ state coffers than the pathetic 10% that AZ gives to NRs. Think of corporations based out side the state that pay taxes. These corporations have owners, the owners directly fund AZ's game management through myraid of taxes they pay, but yet they have no voice in the allocation. Factoring in multiplier effects could show an even greater portion of indirect tax contributions.

Taxes are an insufficient way to judge ownership. I'd wager a fair sum that if you asked a laymen non-hunter "who owns the game" they would either say everybody (as in all U.S. citizens) or nobody; the same answer they would give for public lands.

Now about federalization. I think this is highly unlikely and their is no precedents to suggest that such drastic measures would occur. In other words, no judge that has presided over the case has found it necessary to say: "Hey lets send this to Washington" as an immediate remedy. Rather the 9th circuit has said; "Yup AZ's GFP practices are unconstitutional and to fix it". It will be up to the plaintiffs to petition the court if AZ GFP's solutions are found to be insufficient. Federalization is possible, but imo not very likely. Furthermore, even the 9th circuits finding say that yes state citizens should get more tags than NR's, but their limits to how far NR's can be pushed out. AZ GFP crossed that line. Where is the line then? I think somewhere around 20%-25% of tags is fair or more if management objectives are not being met.

Finally, I think you guys suggesting that USO (and their supporters) have some how accomplished this victory in the courts all of their own wickedness is complete bologna. We have a constitution that says regulation of interstate commerce is the soul domain of the fed. Selling tags to NR's, setting quotas, and limits, is clearly interstate commerce; and therefore unconstitutional. If you think this clause of the Constitution stinks, watch out, its exactly what binds us together into a union instead of what Europe was (is?) prior to the EU.

In retrospect, I honestly believe (based on interview and articles I have read about this fiasco) that if the AZ GFP had left the limits at or around 15-20%, this case never would have happened. You want to blame somebody? Blame the anti-NR mongers that picked a fight they couldn't possibly win on constitutional grounds. Don't blame USO for winning a clean legal fight.

Location: Utah
Joined: 02/24/2003
Posts: 596
USO and your elk hunting rights.
bitmasher wrote:
Taxes seem to be the only logical standing that states can claim ownership to the game. Fine, lets examine this further.

1.) Not all states use state taxes to fund game management. In these states, license revenue and donations pay for all management. Those that use the resource, pay for it.

2.) If taxes are the soul ground for claiming ownership

Just because I pay Bill Gates $200 for some software doesn't mean I should own a part of his company. Yes license dollars fund a lot of game management but when the state runs the entire show, where'd you think they recoop the money they invested in game management?

Taxes are only a small piece of the pie. I've listed all the things in my post that explain further. Everyone involved from the research, law-making, law-enforcing, and problem solving comes from the state. Sure a lot of funds come from licenses, but if you really think about the state put together the entire program from census numbers, habitat research to determining hunt numbers, putting together proclamations, holding a drawing, and printing and issuing tags. The state does EVERYTHING including the big things and the little things.

The only reason licenses were sold in the first place is millions of invested dollars by the state. Who do you think pays for the helicopters at $800 an hour plus pilot fees to count these animals? The biologists, the people who run road blocks, people who check for tags, I could go on and on but they are all paid and managed by the state.

Location: Utah
Joined: 02/24/2003
Posts: 596
USO and your elk hunting rights.

This should clear up state ownership of game.

In Baldwin v. Montana Fish and Game Comm'n., 436 U.S. 371 (1978,) Justice Blackmun explains the reasoning behind early claims:

"Many of the early cases embrace the concept that the States had complete ownership over wildlife within their boundaries, and, as well, the power to preserve this bounty for their citizens alone. It was enough to say "that in regulating the use of the common property of the citizens of [a] state, the legislature is [not] bound to extend to the citizens of all the other states the same advantages as are secured to their own citizens." Corfield v. Coryell, 6 F. Cas. 546, 552 (No. 3,230) (CC ED Pa. 1825).

It appears to have been generally accepted that although the States were obligated to treat all those within their territory equally in most respects, they were not obliged to share those things they held in trust for their own people. (emphasis added)

Geer v. Connecticut, 161 U.S. 519 (1896) In Geer, a case dealing with Connecticut's authority to limit the disposition of game birds taken within its boundaries, the Court roundly rejected the contention "that a State cannot allow its own people the enjoyment of the benefits of the property belonging to them in common, without at the same time permitting the citizens of other States to participate in that which they do not own." 161 U.S., at 530. (emphasis added)

"In more recent years, however, the Court has recognized that the States' interest in regulating and controlling those things they claim to "own," including wildlife, is by no means absolute. States may not compel the confinement of the benefits of their resources, even their wildlife, to their own people whenever such hoarding and confinement impedes interstate commerce. Foster-Fountain Packing Co. v. Haydel, 278 U.S. 1 (1928); Pennsylvania v. West Virginia, 262 U.S. 553 (1923); West v. Kansas Natural Gas Co., 221 U.S. 229 (1911). (I imagine the USO case will fall into this category)

And a State's interest in its wildlife and other resources must yield when, without reason, it interferes with a nonresident's right to pursue a livelihood in a State other than his own, a right that is protected by the Privileges and Immunities Clause. Toomer v. Witsell, 334 U.S. 385 (1948). See Takahashi v. Fish & Game Comm'n, 334 U.S. 410 (1948).

Yet, in his concurring opinion in Baldwin, Chief Justice Burger still reveal an attachment to the belief in common public ownership of game found within a State and a State obligation to manage as a public trust.

"The doctrine that a State "owns" the wildlife within its borders as trustee for its citizens, see Geer v. Connecticut, 161 U.S. 519 (1896), is admittedly a legal anachronism of sorts. See Douglas v. Seacoast Products, Inc., 431 U.S. 265, 284 (1977). A State does not "own" wild birds and animals in the same way that it may own other natural resources such as land, oil, or timber. But, as noted in the Court's opinion, ante, at 386, and contrary to the implications of the dissent, the doctrine is not completely obsolete. It manifests the State's special interest in regulating and preserving wildlife for the benefit of its citizens. See Douglas v. Seacoast Products, Inc., supra, at 284, 287. Whether we describe this interest as proprietary or otherwise is not significant."

Location: Utah
Joined: 02/24/2003
Posts: 596
USO and your elk hunting rights.

Bitty the courts have already said the states "own" the animals, they even said that in the Arizona case.

The reason why the judge sided with USO came from a commerce law where one can transport across state lines and for money sell elk hides and antlers. For that reason a state cannot stop a man in Montana from having an equal chance at making a living in Arizona. Thats right this decision had nothing to with protecting "hunters". It was about money. That should make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

And I'll tell you whats bologna Bitty, is you or anyone else thinking that this will not turn hunting into a rich mans sport. At least in trophy units. You might be mashing at the bit but you need to take your blinders off. If you are for this then you are not for the preservation of hunting as we know it.

USO aren't just outfitters, they are a licensing agent also. They, for a fee, put you in every draw in the West. You're a smart guy think if everything is distrubuted evenly. The rich pompous easterners are going to come out of the woodwork and apply in every draw in every state. And guys like me who can't afford to hunt other states? We'll be left on the outside looking in because of tough odds I'll get one trophy elk tag in my entire life and maybe 2 trophy deer tags. Remember little ole Utah's only got 64,000 elk. Arizona has only 35,000. How many tags you think they give out a year?

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