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SCI Heads To Supreme Court Supporting Wyoming’s Authority To Manage Wildlife

SCI is once again before the U.S. Supreme Court, this time supporting Wyoming in a case that could undermine the state’s ability to manage its wildlife and regulate hunting. 

SCI filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court Nov. 20 in Herrera v. State of Wyoming

SCI supported the arguments of Wyoming in opposition to the claims of Petitioner Clayvin Herrera, a member of the Crow Tribe.  Herrera asserted that an 1868 treaty gave him and other members of the Tribe the right to hunt in violation of state regulations on unoccupied lands outside of Crow Reservation boundaries. 

Herrera took his case to the Supreme Court after he was convicted in Wyoming state court for taking several elk in Bighorn National Forest out of season.

bugling elkSCI explained to the court how a decision in Herrera’s favor could extend far beyond members of the Crow Tribe hunting elk in the Bighorn National Forest and could encourage unregulated hunting of many species on numerous federal and state lands by members of several tribes with similarly worded treaties. 

SCI further explained that, although the Crow Tribe uses conservation principles to regulate hunting within reservation boundaries, the Tribe has not adopted similar conservation-based regulations for off-reservation hunting.  SCI argued that state experts, and not courts, should determine whether hunting regulations are necessary for the conservation of state wildlife.

Amicus briefs in support of Wyoming’s authority to regulate hunting were also filed by several other states, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and other groups concerned about expansive treaty rights.  The Supreme Court is expected to hold oral argument in early January 2019.

In the past, SCI has filed briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court in five cases, involving the possible criminalization of hunting videos, the Second Amendment, roads for wildlife and hunting, states' authority to regulate navigable waters within National Preserves (twice in the same case), and the authority to hunt three antelope species.

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