Non-resident Hunting and the North American Model

JLS

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The Wyoming NR tag thread seems like it's running the ragged edge of ending up a mud slinging match in the pig pen, so I'm starting a new thread, albeit a long one. A few caveats:

1) If you want to debate the particulars of the Wyoming legislation, go to that thread
2) You can be nice while making your point
3) If you can't be nice, start your own thread
4) Budget shortfalls for fish and wildlife agencies are a very real thing. It's not cheap to manage land, build accesses, conduct surveys, make habitat improvements, all while paying your employees a decent wage

Also, let me preface this with the following: these are my opinions only, and I realize we all make our choices in life with respect to our choice of careers, where we live, how many kids we have, and the hobbies we choose to devote out time and resources to. @rwc101 asked me to expand on my thoughts relative to this issue, so this is my attempt to do so. @mottlet pointed out some very valuables things in his post, and hopefully will chime in on this thread.

Let's also clear up a few non-negotiables:

1) States absolutely have the right to restrict NR hunting
2) States absolutely have the right (and some have a legal mandate) to manage its wildlife resources primarily for the benefit of its residents
3) Land ownership status is irrelevant for the purposes of differential treatment for resident and NR hunters.

If you don't believe these, go do some reading on case law before you come back. This link is a little dated, but should get you started in the right direction: https://scholarship.law.marquette.e...=1&article=1055&context=mulr#:~:text=Commerce Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, and the,is typically a recreational activity, such as elk,

Moving forward, I made a prediction we are witnessing the death spiral of the North American Model. Maybe it's a bold prediction, maybe it's pure bullshit, maybe it's hyperbolic, but regardless of your thoughts on that I stand by my prediction. The NA model is fairly well understood, I'm not going to dive into it. It's easy enough to read up on it.

How is this related to NR hunting? It's simple. The NA model relies on participation and advocacy to make it work. If no one participates, no one advocates. If no one advocates, the resource suffers unless there is a financial incentive to promote or propagate it. How do you make someone care about something they have no personal connection to? How many of you participate in community issues that have no bearing on your life? It's human nature, and is understandable. I'll care a lot more about school issue in our district than in the neighboring one, unless I have a personal connection to it.

It's no different with wildlife issues. How many people care about management issues they can't personally relate to? People are much more likely to have a vested interest if they have experienced something relative to the issue(s) at hand. I can guarantee you I care a lot more about the Missouri River breaks having spent a lot of time out there, and have experienced it as a direct participant in hunting and fishing.

So does this mean a NR is entitled to a tag? Hell no. That's not my premise here in any way, shape or form. Does it mean it should be easy to get a tag? Nope. My issue is the real or perceived race to max out NR big game tag pricing. NR tag prices have far outpaced my wage increases over the years, but that's another topic for another thread. The price in states I hunt and have hunted have pretty much quadrupled in the last 20 years.

I mentioned in the other thread I feel it is very important to the success of the NA model that the commoner is a part of this process. I stand by this 100%. When the commoner is no longer part of the process, hunting is now a pastime relegated the to the affluent. Will this end hunting? Hell no. It just means hunting will become an increasingly irrelevant aspect to conservation, and will be guided by money instead of conservation and altruism. It really already is, hence my earlier prediction about the death spiral.

When the commoner is no longer part of western big game hunting (for some this may be their only view into the world of elk, mule deer, or antelope hunting), then they are disenfranchised and no longer take part in the NA model on a national or regional level. Then, we have an increasingly shrinking subset of the population that cares in any way about conservation, hunting and wild places. It's unreasonable to fully expect people to care about things they are disenfranchised from and have little to no hope of participating in. Some will for sure, but to think people across the board will is simply delusional.

I don't know the answer to this issue. If I did I'd be getting rich on consultant fees and I wouldn't GAF what tag prices were, because I could afford any and all of them. As it is, I pick and choose very carefully. My caution is this. @wllm1313 hit on this when he said funding the NA on non-resident prices is a dangerous thing. He's absolutely right.

When you rely on an egalitarian system to fund your agency, you've basically said "it's okay in limited amounts". Kind of like justifying a once a week trip to the whore house. Where does it end? We need to raise more funds, so let's add this governor's tag. Let's raise NR prices again. Let's add another governor's tag. It's hard to keep perspective when you're in the driver' seat, but if you take 20k foot view you can see the shift in who is participating in the NA model. If you're not careful, you end up like Utah.

When money becomes the influencer in wildlife management, everyone loses.
 

MNElkNut

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Some very good points and I agree there are some big challenges up ahead. Is it a death spiral? I hope not. I hope we can turn the wheel the other way. But sadly, I see those of us who are commoners as playing defense all of the time. We win most, but the oppositions chips away. I think we need to start to mount an offense. How about a few bills to benefit us?

The problem right now is that the volunteers who are doing the work by playing defense do not have enough time or money to mount a counterattack.
 
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88man

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I am not being a wise guy as I know this is a very unpopular topic on here. To many studies to fund. Government spends to much money. Way to much personnel & labor spent on non needed or non essentials. Think of what wolves will cost colorado! Money/personnel /resources-etc.
Maybe we need a commoner approach then.
 

mulecreek

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Hasn't money always been the influencer in wildlife management? Hasn't a large percentage of G&F funding always come from those with more money? Even PR funds are more highly generated from those that have more discretionary spending dollars than those who don't. Isn't there always going to be a certain percentage of people that are going to be priced out of hunting regardless of what tags prices are set at. Certainly increasing tag prices results in a higher percentage priced out but what is the correct amount? Isn't that really the question we all struggle with?
 

Dougfirtree

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Isn't it funny that this stuff almost never comes up in fishing? There are way more anglers than hunters and fly fishing is at least as wrapped up in money and the desires of the wealthy. But fishing relies almost entirely on access to restrict numbers, whether it's closing off sections of water to public access, or relying on remoteness to make sure it isn't overrun. You never see non-resident fishing licenses that cost 1000 dollars. Licenses are very reasonably priced even in the best places. You also almost never see a river, or lake that is only open to residents, or has different rules for residents.
The most restricted fishing I've ever done is Atlantic salmon fishing in Quebec. Atlantics are a high-demand/low supply proposition. You need a provincial license and each river has its own management organization that sets the rules and controls access to that river. You pay by the day and there are some sections that are permitted by lottery. But even a great salmon river on the Gaspé penninsula costs about $100.00 bucks to fish for the day, for a non-resident. Expensive? Absolutely, but totally accessible to almost anyone who has the desire for that experience. And most of those rivers do allow you to kill a fish.
 

jlong17

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'Merica
I do find it interesting that this topic is being widely discussed in the hunting community right now. Quite a few folks are saying the NA model is doomed, and that western hunting is not headed in the right direction. I haven’t been around long enough to know what the glory days were like. Some people tell me these are the glory days? I do find that hard to believe considering the insane amount of people out in the field chasing a dwindling number of critters? Anyways, thanks for writing down your concerns and opinions @JLS
 

BWALKER77

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I agree with JLS in as much as game agency's are seriously under funded. In my home state of MT I would love to see resident tags increase 300%. I would also raise NR tags by 150% and cut the number in half.
When smart fine Bill's are frequently over 100 per month I don think these increases are particularly onerous.
 

406dn

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I agree with the gist of your post. From the first governor's tag in Montana, I felt it was the wrong way to go.

Frankly, residents of the western states need to be willing to pick up a bigger percentage of the tab. That can be done both by raising the price of tags, and by changing the draw for the moose, sheep and goats so that say $25 or $50 is the ante to enter the drawing. I think this would both raise a decent amount of revenue, it would also winnow the pool a bit to those most passionate about the chance to hunt them.

One of the side benefits of being a bigger factor in the revenue stream is that resident hunters' concerns would get more consideration both from FWP and the state legislature.
 

Big Fin

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I think this can be a very good thread, useful in many ways. Anyone who purposefully tried to derail the thread or cannot act like and adult can take their keyboard somewhere else. It need not be a debate where someone wins the debate and someone loses. We don't need to try changing other's minds. A discussion from the many perspective that exist here on Hunt Talk will be very valuable.

I've thought about this issue many times over the past decades. My thoughts are long and convoluted, so I'm best to think it through more before chiming in with much detail. However it is analyzed and whatever solutions exist, it will be a complicated discussion.

More later.
 

rwc101

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Chewing on this a bit I guess I'm convinced the NA model is doomed. Ignoring the whole debate about who is a commoner, if the conservation ethic isn't instilled in "the backyard" I don't see the sustainability of fostering it through NR hunting. The only aspect we can really control is access to a tag. Are NR willing to prioritize the maximum number of people getting to experience hunting as an NR in exchange for their chance to be repeat customers? Eliminate points, fund majority of the budget through resident tag sales, and cultivate a greater number of conservationists by placing a 5 year (or more) waiting period after pulling a tag? Based on the previous thread I don't think that's the case. It's a goal I could get behind.
 
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BuglinDrew

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One common thread I’ve noticed amongst residents of western states on this board is that most of us would be fine with paying increased fees for resident tags. Personally, I would have no problem paying double what I’m paying right now for an elk tag, especially knowing that it could potentially provide a huge spike in funding for wildlife management.
 

huntnpack

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Isn't it funny that this stuff almost never comes up in fishing? There are way more anglers than hunters and fly fishing is at least as wrapped up in money and the desires of the wealthy. But fishing relies almost entirely on access to restrict numbers, whether it's closing off sections of water to public access, or relying on remoteness to make sure it isn't overrun. You never see non-resident fishing licenses that cost 1000 dollars. Licenses are very reasonably priced even in the best places. You also almost never see a river, or lake that is only open to residents, or has different rules for residents.
The most restricted fishing I've ever done is Atlantic salmon fishing in Quebec. Atlantics are a high-demand/low supply proposition. You need a provincial license and each river has its own management organization that sets the rules and controls access to that river. You pay by the day and there are some sections that are permitted by lottery. But even a great salmon river on the Gaspé penninsula costs about $100.00 bucks to fish for the day, for a non-resident. Expensive? Absolutely, but totally accessible to almost anyone who has the desire for that experience. And most of those rivers do allow you to kill a fish.
I'd equate inland fishing to small game hunting though. Salmon might be an exception, but if states consider turkeys small game, I'm definitely considering salmon small game.
 

JLS

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Ignoring the whole debate about who is a commoner, if the conservation ethic isn't instilled in "the backyard" I don't see the sustainability of fostering it through NR hunting.
I hope you don't think I'm saying NR hunting is integral to conservation ethic. I'm not. However, when you look at hunting as a whole, with increased competition for access, and how monetization of access reduces participation, it's not hard to connect the dots and see the same affect with increased tag prices.

Conservation ethic, IMO, requires engagement to keep the fire lit. When people move on to other activities, they may still care about the wildlife resources but they are far enough removed from it that it's no longer occupying high priority space in their world view.
 

406dn

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I think you'd be surprised at the comments this would draw at a commission meeting.

Sadly, any time the subject comes up, there is a lot of wailing and crying about how it prices out the little guy.

But it ignores the fact that the little guy can't really afford to hunt right now. I'd keep doe tags dirt cheap to answer that line of attack. That is a pure meat hunt for those making the case that they need game meat to feed their family.
 

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