Nevada Outdoor Democratic Caucus

An affiliate of the Nevada State Democratic Party



August 2005 UPDATE:  S.339 IS LAW. 

Senator Reid attached the bill to a budget resolution and successfully negotiated its passage out of the Senate and on to the desk of the President where it was signed into law.  One Nevada hunter called Senator Reid "The man who saved hunting in Nevada."  That's one hunter's view, but it not just a brag, Reid's fast action has impacted hunting in the West forever.  Resident hunters who do the huge share of conservation for our big game animals can now count on traditional state control of wildlife management.    

Please also see Nevada info in detail from the NV Dept. of Wildlife

Reaffirmation of State Regulation of Resident and Nonresident Hunting and Fishing Act of 2005 (Introduced in Senate)

S 339 IS


1st Session

S. 339

To reaffirm the authority of States to regulate certain hunting and fishing activities.


February 9, 2005

Mr. REID (for himself, Mr. BAUCUS, Mr. STEVENS, Mr. NELSON of Nebraska, and Mr. ENSIGN) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

(See this link )


History behind the legislation:

   Congress was given the power to regulate interstate commerce by Article I of the Constitution. This power to regulate has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court to also give Congress the power to regulate activities which negatively impact interstate commerce, commonly referred to as the “negative” or “dormant Commerce Clause.”  

   The Court has cited the dormant Commerce Clause when denying the states the power to unjustifiably discriminate against or burden the interstate flow of articles of commerce. If a state regulation has a substantial effect on interstate commerce, then the subject matter of the state regulation, which could be regulated by Congress under the Commerce Clause, becomes subject to the dormant Commerce Clause. 

   Congress does have the power to specifically exempt a state regulated activity from the dormant Commerce Clause. In 1890, when the Supreme Court decided that the regulation of alcoholic beverages lay beyond the reach of the states, Congress promptly overrode that decision with the Webb-Kenyon Act. Thereafter, the Court upheld Congress’ authority to commit the regulation of liquor imports to state authority.

 Motivation for legislation:

   The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently concluded that a state recreational hunting regulation substantially affects interstate commerce such that the dormant Commerce Clause applies and ruled that state laws that distinguish between state residents and non-residents for the purpose of affording hunting and related privileges are constitutionally suspect.

   Although the Ninth Circuit found the purposes of such regulation to be sound, the Court questioned the validity of tag limits for non-resident hunters.

   The Ninth Circuit ruling has spawned litigation in other states, and several pending lawsuits threaten each state’s wildlife regulatory authority.

What the Bill Would Do:

   The bill creates an exemption to the dormant Commerce Clause in order to give each state the right to regulate access to hunting and fishing. This is done by a renunciation of federal interest in regulating hunting and fishing. The reasons for creating this exception include the following:

  • Allowing states to distinguish and/or discriminate between residents and non-residents ensures the protection of state wildlife and protects resident hunting and fishing opportunities.

  • Protecting the public interest of individual states’ conservation efforts. Sportsmen and local organizations are extremely active in the conservation of fish and game. They support wildlife conservation through taxes, fees, and locally led non-profit conservation efforts.

  • Respecting the traditional authority of individual states. The regulation of wildlife has traditionally been within a state’s purview. It is in the best interest of the state and federal governments to ensure that states retain the authority to regulate wildlife.



Here is the best link for background and how this issue affects Nevada from our own NDOW.

Nevada Department of Wildlife

Click on the link above or here

Breaking news March 2005 - Safari Club International

March 29, 2005 - In The Crosshairs -- e-news from SCI's Washington Office
March 29, 2005

Non-Resident Hunters
SCI has released a statement regarding the issue of non-resident licenses distributed by state fish & game agencies. This is also in reference to the US Senate Bill 339 introduced by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

"SCI believes the recent lawsuits were ill advised and ill conceived. They pit hunter against hunter, resulting in unintended negative consequences and actions which may ultimately affect our freedom to hunt. For nearly a hundred years, our game species have been well managed by state agencies who utilize local and professional game biologists and agents who are answerable to the local and state residents. Now, as a result of the recent lawsuits, many aspects of game management are in the hands of the federal courts and ultimately may be in the hands of Federal Government bureaucracy. SCI strongly opposes the involvement of the federal government in state and local game management. Therefore, SCI believes that under the circumstances, federal legislative action negating the recent federal court decision may be necessary. However, SCI strongly urges the states to be mindful of the equities of nonresident hunters. Much of huntable land, particularly in the west, is federal land that belongs to all citizens. Every American should have a reasonable opportunity to hunt in states that have hunting. Additionally, nonresident hunting remains and should remain an important part of state fish and game department funding therefore SCI urges the states that have generous quotas to maintain those quotas (for example, Colorado which provides 40% of its quota to non-residents, and New Mexico which provides 22%), and other states to adopt a quota for non-residents of not less than 15%."

REID Press Release

Contact: Tessa Hafen or Sharyn Stein 202-224-9521



Washington, D.C. – Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced a bill in the Senate today to protect Nevada’s hunters and fishermen. Reid’s bill reaffirms the right of states to manage their own fish and wildlife programs. That historic right has been jeopardized by a recent federal court ruling.

 “The court ruling is a threat to the conservation of wildlife resources in Nevada, and a threat to Nevada’s ability to provide recreational opportunities for its own citizens,” said Reid. “This legislation shows that we respect the states’ right to manage their own resources. It has bipartisan support, and I’m hopeful we can pass it quickly.”

 Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) is co-sponsoring the legislation.

 “The state should maintain the rights on deciding fishing and hunting regulations,” said Ensign. “Nevada is gifted in that our fish and wildlife programs are continuously thriving and to prolong this success, our state and not the federal court, should make the choices to preserve this.”

 States have traditionally had the right to regulate hunting and fishing within their own borders, including the right to issue licenses and set tag limits. However, a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals could undermine those rights. The court ruled that states should not set different tag limits for residents and non-residents, because that could violate non-residents’ Constitutional rights. Reid’s bill would reaffirm states’ right to make such distinctions.

 “Sportsmen are ardent conservationists,” said Reid. “For example, in Nevada there are sportsmen’s groups like Nevada Bighorns Unlimited and the Fraternity of Desert Bighorn. Members of these groups spend their own time and money protecting our bighorn sheep, which are suffering because of a severe drought. Their understanding of our local habitats, and their efforts to save hundreds of these animals, justifies giving them hunting privileges that out-of-state sportsmen don’t get.”

 In addition to Ensign, Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Conrad Burns (R-MT), and Max Baucus (D-MT) are co-sponsors of Reid’s bill.



News from other States: Arizona

Arizona Game and Fish

Senate Bill 2978 may impact your hunting opportunities

Wildlife News

November 10, 2004

Dear Outdoor Enthusiast:

As a response to a recent decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Senate Bill 2978 has been introduced by Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada. This bill would allow states, rather than the courts, to regulate hunting and fishing.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s ability to regulate hunting and fishing, and maintain resident advantage was recently abridged by the unprecedented decision of the 9th Circuit in Montoya v. Shroufe. The department’s biggest asset in accomplishing its mission is the public support that engaged residents are uniquely positioned to provide. While the department welcomes nonresident hunters, maintaining resident hunting opportunities is one of the best ways to support conservation.

If you have an opinion regarding this legislation, please contact your Arizona senators.

We appreciate your continued support of the department’s wildlife conservation efforts.

Wildlife News
July 15, 2004

A decision by a federal judge will affect impending fall hunt draw results for Arizona's elk and deer hunters.

U.S. District Judge Robert Broomfield, in a ruling issued July 13 in the case of Montoya vs. Shroufe, declared Arizona's 10 percent cap on nonresident hunt-permit tags unconstitutional. Broomfield also ordered the state to refrain from enforcing the cap.

Because the cap plays a role in the drawing system used to determine which hunters will receive a permit to hunt bull elk and antlered deer north of the Colorado River, the judge's ruling forces the Game and Fish Commission to find a method to distribute this year's fall hunt permits in a way that won't discriminate against out-of-state hunters.

The commission will consider its options in a special telephone meeting to be held Friday, July 16, noon, at the Wildlife Building on the Arizona State Fairgrounds. At the meeting, the commission will be briefed on the options and is expected to vote to direct the department how to proceed. The Wildlife Building is located at 1826 W. McDowell Rd.; members of the public who wish to attend the meeting are advised to avoid construction by entering the gate at 19th Avenue and Encanto.

Hunters applying for permits to hunt bighorn sheep, buffalo, antelope, turkey and javelina are not affected by this ruling.

Montoya vs. Shroufe began in 2000, when Lawrence Montoya, a self-described professional hunter from New Mexico who also runs a guide service, sued the Game and Fish Department claiming that Commission Rule 12-4-114E, which established the 10 percent cap on nonresident hunt permits, violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

In yesterday's ruling, Judge Broomfield agreed and ordered the department to immediately stop using or enforcing the 10 percent cap.

The department will keep hunters informed by posting news about the fall draw on its Web site,



News from other States: Montana


News Release



FOR RELEASE: December 30, 2002

CONTACT: Judy Beck or Lynn Solomon, 444-0582

McGrath: States Have Right to Limit Non-Resident Hunting Permits

HELENA - Attorney General Mike McGrath recently filed a friend of the court brief asking the United States Supreme Court to consider an Arizona case involving the legality of limiting the number of hunting permits available to non-residents.

Twenty-one other states signed on in support of Montana’s brief, which contends that the 9th Circuit’s ruling jeopardizes the ability of states like Montana to conserve, promote and develop wild life resources within their borders.

“Without the support Montanans give and the sacrifices they make for our wildlife, no one would enjoy the quality of hunting our state offers,” McGrath said. “The importance of this issue for states throughout the West requires the U.S. Supreme Court to get involved.”

The brief (PDF 235KB) notes that at least 23 states in addition to Arizona impose limits on the number of non-resident hunting permits, and that at least 32 states impose a greater fee on some non-resident hunting permits than resident permits. According to the brief, “differential fees and limits on non-resident hunting permits remain vital to the conservation and development of wildlife throughout our Nation.”

The brief also argues that the Supreme Court should reconsider the lower court’s ruling because the decision:
· conflicts with other court decisions that have rejected similar arguments that big game hunting constitutes interstate commerce, and
· inappropriately replaces the courts’ historic recognition of a state’s legitimate need for wildlife management with a strict analysis of big game hunting as a commercial industry comparable to mining or commercial fishing.

In August, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Arizona’s restriction on the number of hunting permits issued to out-of-state hunters on the ground that it violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The 1991 Arizona law allotted 10 percent of bull elk and antlered deer hunting tags to non-residents.

Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming joined in signing Montana’s brief.