Back in the 1970’s a hunter from the State of Texas brought a lawsuit against the State of New Mexico claiming that the system in place to determine how many licenses New Mexico hunters could receive annually for hunting bighorn sheep, oryx and ibex violated his Equal Protection rights. The Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits states from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. The Texas hunter, David Terk, successfully challenged the system employed by the state’s Game and Fishing Department on the grounds that the lower quotas and higher hunting fees constituted unconstitutional discrimination against non-residents in violation of that constitutional provision.
Now decades later, a group of New Mexico hunters has obtained a lifting of the long-standing injunction which the Court in the 1970’s imposed against the Game and Fish Department. The Department issued a statement saying it will reinstate quotas starting with this year’s draw to give state residents the same advantage they have now when applying for licenses to hunt other big game animals such as deer and elk.
The original system intended to give some preferences to hunters in New Mexico. The state is home to many species of wildlife which are not found in large numbers in other states. The out-of-state Texas hunter contended that the reduced chances of his being able to acquire a license to hunt these animals indicated that his equal protection rights had been violated.
Now the U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo lifted the long-standing injunction on the ground that it was no longer equitable because of changes in the law and court rulings in other states that have backed up quota systems that benefit resident hunters.
Mr. Giddens and the other attorneys at Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. have experience advising New Mexico businesses and property owners regarding local, state and federal laws, regulations and licensure matters. Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. is located at 10400 Academy Road N.E., Suite 350 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Call the office at (505) 633-6298 to set up an appointment or visit the firm’s website at giddenslaw.com for more information.