Supreme Court Ruling Threatens Wildlife And Hunting

Arizona Hunting
Supreme Court Ruling Threatens Wildlife And Hunting

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- In an opinion released today, the Supreme Court ruled that an 1868 treaty between the U.S. and the Crow Tribe could give members of that tribe the right to ignore state hunting regulations and engage in the unregulated take of game beyond the borders of reservation land.

The case of Herrera v. Wyoming was brought to the Supreme Court by Clayvin Herrera, a member of the Crow Tribe and former tribe game warden. Herrera followed a group of elk past the Crow reservation's boundary and ended up taking several bull elk in the Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming.

Herrera asserted his treaty rights as a defense to criminal charges of illegally taking elk out of season. After he lost in state court, Herrera successfully petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to consider his case.

Supreme Court Justices Sotomayor, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan and Gorsuch agreed with Herrera. They held that the Bighorn National Forest and other federal lands may fall within the scope of an 1868 treaty that permits members of the Crow Tribe to hunt on “unoccupied lands of the United States.”

SCI assisted the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in this case, opposing the position of Herrera. SCI filed a “friend of the court” brief to defend the importance of state management authority over game on federal lands. This same principle could apply to 19 other treaties with similar language, spreading the impact to other Tribes and well beyond Wyoming.

In effect, the ruling could give Tribal members the ability to ignore the state hunting regulations. This could threaten wildlife populations. It could also lead to restrictions on non-Native hunters in order to keep harvests within biologically acceptable limits.

The glimmer of hope for state wildlife managers is that the ruling still allows Wyoming to make its case to the Wyoming state court that the state's hunting regulations should override treaty rights for reasons of “conservation necessity.”

Four justices, including Justice Alito, Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Thomas and Kavanaugh, filed a dissenting opinion strongly disagreeing with the majority ruling.

SCI argued in our brief that states could be forced to reduce the available harvest for non-tribal hunters since the unregulated take by tribal hunters not only reduces the potential availability of game for all, but also undermines the state wildlife managers' ability to accurately determine the number of animals removed from the population.

SCI will continue to monitor the case and, if needed, will help support Wyoming's efforts to demonstrate the conservation necessity of its game regulations.


About Safari Club InternationalSafari Club International

First For Hunters is the leader in protecting the freedom to hunt and in promoting wildlife conservation worldwide. SCI's approximately 200 Chapters represent all 50 of the United States as well as 106 other countries. SCI's proactive leadership in a host of cooperative wildlife conservation, outdoor education and humanitarian programs, with the SCI Foundation and other conservation groups, research institutions and government agencies, empowers sportsmen to be contributing community members and participants in sound wildlife management and conservation. Visit the home page www.SafariClub.org, or call (520) 620-1220 for more information.

  • 24 thoughts on “Supreme Court Ruling Threatens Wildlife And Hunting

    1. Hey lets kick this out for the socialists, you want the government to control health care and all of your lives, just look at the quality of life of the Indians on the government Reservations that they live on, been there and have seen it, those people have been screwed to the max, and I don’t want any part of their socialist agenda!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. “Unoccupied” land means what? Land outside the Reservation is occupied. Everyone knows this. How far do you measure to claim “unoccupied?” For now, I consider it poaching, mostly since, if I have this correct, they have unregulated hunting ON the Reservation, hunting OFF the Reservation is strictly regulated, except for them, and they don’t have to report, defeating the effort to maintain some semblance of conservation. Seems to me to be yet another effort by the supposedly unbiased liberals to accommodate a social class at the expense of everything else, including current laws and logical planning.

    3. As a Wyoming resident, I have no problem on the decision, I wasn’t born when these treaties were signed but I wasn’t born when the constitution was signed either! How about Wyoming game and fish subtract the tribes harvest from the non resident license allocation? Is SCI supporting conservation , or are they worried about less of a chance of members drawing coveted Wyoming tags?

    4. As a Wyoming resident, I don’t have a problem with tribe members hunting were the treaties said they can. How can we ignore this just because we were not born yet? Should we ditch the bill of right’s? The constitution?
      SCI we don’t need YOU in Wyoming helping preserve the Right to pay to hunt trophys for decorations,
      I see enough disrespect of wildlife during hunting season, spoiled meat, LONG RANGE SHOTS gone bad this is all the rage!
      There is a difference between trophy hunters and meat hunters maybe the problem is he didn’t spend enough $$ on hotels, guides, gear, taxidermy gas and food

      1. You might want to read the decision a bit more carefully. The constitution does not allow the federal government to “own” most of Wyoming…YOU sound like a California transplant.

        1. Nope born in PA, moved to Wyoming as a kid 30+ years ago , hunt fished and trapped all my life work big game season as a skinner / meat cutter, vote republican mostly, spent 9yrs as an infantryman

      2. They crossed state lines to poach trophy bull elk out of season, these bulls were on the winter range. If they were hunting for meat you would think they would target delicious younger elk, not older trophies. They even left a bull to rot, no attempt at recovery. Herrera had also killed multiple trophy mulies but G&F couldn’t prove it without a doubt and didn’t hit him with even more charges. Allowing these people to kill recklessly when animals are on winter range is a HUGE PROBLEM!!!!

          1. @Grim, It is not necessarily “the law” because ” … Sotomayor, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan and Gorsuch … held that the Bighorn National Forest and other federal lands MAY fall within …” That may have gotten Herrera off of the criminal conviction, but is hardly depository concerning the treaty, or treaties with other tribes.
            MAY fall within … the Yantis old fart breakfast club could have been more definitive.

    5. The supreme court has just made the case for the ceding of all “unoccupied” federal lands to the respective states! This is what happens when the chickens come home to roost from failed 19th century socialist land policies.

    6. Poacher. If you leave the Tribe Lands then you face White Man law. If I were to leave my game unit and kill something on one of their reservations I would be held accountable for my actions and so should he( the crow Indian.) No more Excuses if we’re all EQUALS then treat us so- and hang his ass out to dry. At this point in time of gps units and easy access to maps and such he knew just what he was doing and where he was at. Just another Poacher!!

        1. @Grim, How do you get from a treaty issue to re-interpretation of the Second Amendment? As if the librards haven’t been trying to do that for decades.

    7. Just about every treaty the government has shoved it up the Indian’s ass.They managed their wildlife way before the white man. They should be able to hunt where they want. Hell the white man just about wiped everything out. Look at the buffalo, was in the millions. Shot them for the hide an fun of it.The ones against them hunting are just jealous they can’t, dnr can’t do nothing about it.

      1. Liberal members of the Supreme court at i again. Let’s do away with all these treaties which were made before anyone of us were alive. No matter what race of people you are respect states rights,

      2. So your position is there should be no game limits at all simply because the hunters belong to a tribe? Yeah, makes perfect sense….to no one.

        1. I imagine they have their own regulations they go by.You really think the whole tribe is going invade the big Horn mts.

          1. @Douglas K, it only takes a few like Herrera. He was not following any rules. It is the animals that are at stake.

      3. @Doug K, Actually the aboriginal peoples of America were terrible managers. They would cut down an entire walnut tree to get the walnuts, with no thought about next year. Driving buffalo, by the hundreds, over a cliff was a common technique, and then they would cut off only the best parts.
        And it was the Brucellosis bacteria that nearly wiped out the buffalo.

    8. It looks like the SCOTUS decision aligns with the movement of turning the federal lands back to the states.

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