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Eight agricultural associations joined forces to file an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. The eight associations, represented by Mountain States Legal Foundation, seek to protect land usage rights from American Indian tribes that wish to hunt, out-of-season and without a license, on nearly all federal lands, including those leased and permitted to farmers and ranchers in the State of Wyoming. 

The case, Hererra v. Wyoming, hinges on a long legal history involving Indian treaty hunting rights. Specifically, the Crow Tribe treaty of 1868 reserved the right of tribe members to hunt on the unoccupied lands of the United States. 

Mountain States Legal Foundation filed the amicus brief, arguing that federally managed lands that are legally used by farmers and ranchers through agreements with the United States are inherently occupied and therefore not subject to the Crow Tribe’s treaty hunting right. 

MSLF’s argument is based on the plain meaning of the term “occupied” as understood today and in 1868, as well as the intent of both the tribe and the United States when signing and ratifying the treaty. 

“We are not seeking to overturn the hunting rights the Crow Tribe reserved in their treaty with the United States,” said MSLF attorney Cody Wisniewski. “Quite the contrary, we are just asking the Court to treat the right as both the tribe and United States understood it in 1868.” 

Farmers and ranchers put leased and permitted federal lands to a beneficial use and do so in partnership with the federal agencies that manage the lands. It is important that farmers and ranchers are able to protect their property interest in the lands they pay the United States to use. 

MSLF filed the brief on behalf of the following associations: Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation, Wyoming Wool Growers Association, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, Utah Farm Bureau Federation, Colorado Farm Bureau Federation, and South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association. 

Mountain States Legal Foundation, created in 1977, is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system. Its offices are in suburban Denver, Colorado.