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'Gouge the nonresident hunter' not so fun The high-stakes 'game' of charging more to out-of-stateshooters is taking its lumps at the hands of the courts By Ron ScharaHost of ESPN2'sBackroads with Ron & Raven

That popular ol' game of "gouge the nonresident hunter" - played so increasingly by state legislatures and state wildlife agencies - appears to be heading for the U.S. Supreme Court.
The case involves an Arizona ploy to restrict nonresidents to only 10 percent of certain big game licenses, including elk.
Normally, state wildlife agencies get away with bashing hunters from other states because, well, they have no power, no vote and little political support because most resident hunters understandably enjoy their me-first status and cheap license fees.
Only this time it didn't work in Arizona.
Months ago, a lawsuit was filed in Arizona on behalf of nonresident hunters challenging the 10 percent restriction on the allotment of big game licenses. As expected, a state court ruled in favor of the Arizona Game and Fish Department
However, the nonresident hunters appealed and, holy license fees, they won.
Last August, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court's ruling and said the limitations on nonresidents were an unlawful restriction of interstate commerce.
According to the Associated Press, the federal appellate ruling marked the first time the court sided with nonresident hunters in questions involving state powers.
But now the plot thickens.
Arizona asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the lower court ruling, but last month the Supreme Court declined.
The case was returned to the lower court, giving Arizona a chance to prove that a nonresident restriction was necessary to manage wildlife.
It also may mean Arizona will have to modify its gouging game and, hopefully, give nonresidents a fairer and more reasonable license allotment.
But let's not hold our collective out-of-state breath. In truth, the game of gouge the nonresident hunters is out of control in many states:
In Montana, a nonresident elk hunter must pay a license fee that ranges from $588 to $925. A resident elk hunter pays $16.
To add insult, only 11,500 nonresidents are allowed to hunt elk in Montana for the lower fee, although most of the elk live on land owned by all Americans.
For Montana residents, there is no limitation and no drawing for elk licenses, which are sold over the counter at convenience stores.
In Wyoming, a nonresident deer hunter pays license fees ranging from $220 to $320. A resident forks over $5 to $28.
To hunt antelope, the nonresident Wyoming fee varies from $195 to $295; a resident pays $5 to $25. To hunt deer in Iowa, the nonresident fee is $220.50; a resident's fee is about eight times cheaper, $26.
In North Dakota, it's nonresident waterfowlers who have the wrath of resident duck and goose hunters. State law restricts nonresidents to only 14 days of waterfowl hunting or two 7-day seasons out of the state's 60-day season.
In addition, the number of waterfowl permits for nonresidents was capped last fall for the first time at 30,000.
To make sure residents "get their ducks first", nonresidents are not allowed to hunt in the first week of the waterfowl season.
Decades ago, South Dakota was one of the first players in the gouging game by forbidding nonresidents to hunt ducks or geese anywhere in the state.
Only when federal officials threatened to withhold federal duck funds did South Dakota finally allow nonresidents to hunt waterfowl … for 10 days only.
Excessive or extreme nonresident restrictions on waterfowling might make for another case in court.
First, waterfowl is a resource controlled by federal law because of the birds' migratory nature.
Second, most states eagerly accept waterfowl management money from federal duck stamp revenue and a nationwide excise tax on firearms and ammunition - all of it from all waterfowlers, resident and nonresident.
Despite the long history of unfair treatment toward nonresidents, most states apparently think the gouging game must go on.
In fact, 22 states have now joined together - including some of the biggest gouging practitioners - to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the Arizona case.
The states are claiming that, without power to limit nonresidents, they'll not be able to manage wildlife populations within their state.
A Montana official frets that the state won't be able to charge nonresidents more for licenses than it does residents.
Most surprising, Minnesota is one of the 22 states, joining the appeal. Surprising because Minnesota hunters are often the nonresidents targeted for high fees and restrictions by neighboring states.
Minnesota is, in fact, a poor player in the gouging game. It's nonresident fishing or hunting fees are never more than about five times the resident fee.
In the hunt for limited wild turkey licenses, Minnesota offers nonresidents the same lottery chance for a turkey permit that residents have.
Does the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have a fever or something?
Rise up, Minnesota hunters and anglers. Give us residents all of the turkey licenses or give us death. Ban those foreigners. No more nothing for those out-of-state hook and bullet hogs. Set the nonresident walleye limit at zero. Nyet. No deer hunting until the final day of the season. Canoe trips into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness will be limited to 30 minutes.
Of late, in state after state, dumping on nonresident hunters and anglers is only being fair. Minnesota should join the Union. Being an American today is about getting yours first.
Ron Schara may be reached at [email protected].
 
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