Wyoming just stuck a huge middle finger up at the federal government.

More and more, we’re seeing states simply ignore the feds. As just one example, we now have 33 states with legal medical marijuana and 10 states allowing adult use of cannabis despite continuing federal prohibition. But Wyoming took things to another level last month when Gov. Mark Gordon signed a bill into law that sets the stage to authorize a grizzly bear hunt despite a federal court ruling prohibiting it.

In 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted grizzly bears as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. In order to manage the growing bear population, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission scheduled a limited grizzly bear hunt for August 2018. But U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen’s issued a ruling that restored the species’ “threatened” status under the Endangered Species Act, thereby nixing the hunt.

Sen. Wyatt Agar (R-Weiser) sponsored Senate Bill 93. Isn’t that a great name for a guy thumbing his nose at the feds?

Anyway, under the new law, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission “may conduct a grizzly bear hunt and shall issue licenses … which shall provide for the dates, times and locations of the hunts” if “the game and fish commission determines under the laws of the state of Wyoming that a grizzly bear hunt would be beneficial for managing Wyoming’s wildlife and for protecting Wyoming workers and other citizens and tourists of the state.”

This sets the stage for the state to nullify the federal judge’s ruling. A Wyoming newspaper said it would allow the state to move ahead with an “illegal” hunt.

You want to know what’s illegal?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, that’s what.

If we were following the law of the land – the Constitution – the agency wouldn’t exist.

Here’s a simple, indisputable fact: The federal government doesn’t have the constitutional authority to regulate wildlife. And as Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist #78, “No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the constitution, can be valid.”

So, Wyoming has every right – and I would say even a responsibility – to tell this federal judge to pound sand. As James Madison wrote in the Virginia Resolutions of 1798:

“In case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.”

Now, whether Wyoming will follow through and authorize the hunt remains to be seen. But the foundation is set and the state Game and Fish Commission absolutely should. If U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen doesn’t like it, let him roll his ass out of the courtroom and do something about it.

Good job Wyoming! We need a lot more of this!

Mike Maharrey

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