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Other views: Hunting lawsuit decision should be a wake-up call

There have been many volleys fired across the border by resident hunters from their respective states, aimed squarely at either resident or nonresident waterfowl and/or upland hunters.

There have been many volleys fired across the border by resident hunters from their respective states, aimed squarely at either resident or nonresident waterfowl and/or upland hunters. The latest was the dismissal of the lawsuit brought by Minnesota against North Dakota over waterfowl hunting and management.

Here is the essence of the dismissed lawsuit:

E Count one alleges that barring nonresident hunters the ability to hunt waterfowl in North Dakota the first week of the season violates the Commerce Clause.

E Count two alleges that North Dakota eliminating a statewide nonresident waterfowl license violates the Commerce Clause.

E Count three alleges that North Dakota violates the Commerce Clause by requiring nonresident landowners or lessors to purchase a small game and/or waterfowl license to hunt on the land they have obtained.

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E Count four alleges that North Dakota violates the Commerce Clause by restricting nonresidents from hunting PLOTS (private land open to sportsmen) and other state owned lands the first week of the season.

E Count five alleges North Dakota violates the Commerce Clause by charging higher nonresident license fees to hunt waterfowl.

Migratory birds are managed by the federal government, individual states have the ability to manage the migratory birds within the external boundaries of their respective states whether reared within or migrating through the state as long as the management practices are not more liberal than the federal guidelines set forth each season.

The Forum in its June 12 edition printed columns by capitol correspondent Janell Cole and editorial page editor Jack Zaleski both issuing a subliminal spanking to North Dakota's resident hunters. I am one of them.

Many things have happened since the lawsuit was filed. The 2005 North Dakota legislative session saw many issues concerning hunting in North Dakota. SB (Senate Bill) 2256 passed and allows nonresident waterfowl hunters to hunt unrestricted by zones for 14 days. SB 2367 makes the nonresident small game (upland) license valid for 14 days instead of 10.

North Dakota does not have any limit to the number of nonresident waterfowl or upland hunters to date. North Dakota has restrictions on nonresident waterfowl hunters that pale in comparison to South Dakota's waterfowl hunting regulations, yet the lawsuit was aimed at North Dakota. Nonresidents may also purchase as many North Dakota small game licenses as they wish. The lawsuit by Minnesota may have recently been thrown out, but it did resonate before the ruling with the 59th North Dakota Legislature and they responded.

North Dakota without question is a premier destination for hunting. Why is hunting so good in our state? Because we have habitat for the wildlife within our state and a very good system of management by the North Dakota Game and Fish department for the wildlife within said habitat. North Dakotas' wildlife management system is not accepted and approved by everyone regardless of the state of residency. Many areas could be improved upon to fine-tune the system; however, the counts of the lawsuit by Minnesota, if successful, would have had far-reaching negative effects to the system. The vast majority of Minnesota, as well as other states' waterfowlers understand that North Dakota is managing the system to benefit wildlife, residents and our guest hunters.

North Dakota resident hunters are consistently labeled as selfish because we want to try to maintain North Dakota's hunting heritage for future generations. If conservation of a resource is selfish then go ahead and label me selfish.

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There is a long list of states, the most recent being Arkansas, which have witnessed the result of unlimited live for today practices and hunting policies. Minnesota is on the list as well. The concept is so simple. More habitat properly managed by landowners and competent professionals hired to do the job equals more wildlife equals more successful hunters. It is not a popular concept with the live-for-today and the I-got-mine crowd, but it is required to maintain viable wildlife resources into the future.

Judge Hovland ruled on the merits of the case without taking into account the recent federal law that affirms the right of the individual states to manage wildlife as they see fit. Judge Hovland also mentions in his ruling some of the laws of the 58th North Dakota legislative session and the resulting possibility of retaliation by Minnesota. If Minnesota retaliates who will the winners be?

This lawsuit was based on sour grapes by a small group of former North Dakota residents and others with political motives. It had nothing to do with what we should be concerned with and that is being able to take our grandchildren hunting so they too can be part of what we enjoyed as children and grandchildren.

This ruling by Judge Hovland is no cause for celebration by North Dakotas' resident hunters as suggested by The Forum staff. It should act as a wake-up call to those of us that see the need to secure and preserve North Dakota's habitat, wildlife natural resources and hunting heritage for future generations. Regardless of what state you hale from.

Kellam, Fargo, can be reached at BKellam@tharaldson.com

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