Federal Judge Removes Injunction on 10-Percent Nonresident Cap

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There is more good news for Arizona hunters: U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Broomfield on Aug. 22 granted the Arizona Game and Fish Commission’s motion to revoke the permanent injunction prohibiting enforcement of the state’s 10-percent nonresident cap on big game drawings.

“This means the last major legal hurdle has been crossed. Now the Game and Fish Commission can continue moving forward with its rule making efforts to reinstate the 10-percent nonresident cap,” says Commission Chairman Hays Gilstrap.

Arizona’s original 10-percent cap on nonresident hunt tags was created to protect hunting opportunities for Arizona residents. Last year in July, a U.S. District Court declared the cap unconstitutional, citing the federal Commerce Clause as the reason, and issued an injunction prohibiting the commission from enforcing the cap.

That court action set in motion an exhaustive effort during the past year by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and department, hunters and other stakeholders to institute a wide range of strategies to help protect resident hunting opportunities.

More recently, the U.S. Congress took legislative action to renounce interest in regulating hunting and fishing permits under the federal Commerce Clause, opening the door for Arizona to re-instate limits on nonresident hunting.

At its August meeting in Flagstaff, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission approved a notice of rulemaking to reinstate and expand the 10-percent cap. The original 10-percent cap applied to bull elk, buffalo, bighorn sheep and some antlered deer units. The commission voted to expand the cap to include all antlered deer, pronghorn, javelina and turkey hunts as well. For most species, the cap would be applied at no more than 10 percent of the tags available for each hunt number.

“The rule process takes time and involves lots of opportunities for public input, but we anticipate having the caps in place for the 2006 big game drawings,” says Gilstrap.