Elk NetworkJudge Rules Tribal Members Must Follow Hunting Regulations

General | June 23, 2020

A Sheridan County Circuit Court judge ruled Native American tribal members must abide by Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) regulations when hunting outside of reservation areas.

The ruling is linked to the high profile case of Clayvin Herrera. He began a 2014 hunt on Crow Tribal land in Montana but crossed state lines onto the Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming where he took an elk. WGFD officials cited Herrera for illegally taking game and a Sheridan County Circuit Court jury found him guilty.

Herrera cited an 1868 treaty and appealed his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court which vacated the judgement. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation expressed disappointment and concern with the ruling, especially with what it may mean for the future of state-based wildlife management. However, as part of its ruling the high court remanded the case to the local court to address conservation-related regulations regarding how Crow tribal hunting takes place in Wyoming and what portions of the Bighorn National Forest are deemed “occupied,” meaning Crow tribal hunting could not take place there.

According to the Gillette News Record, Judge Shelley Cundiff cited a previous legal ruling as well as a 1992 code adopted by the Crow Fish and Wildlife Commission to deny Herrera’s claims.

Herrera has 30 days to appeal the decision.

(Photo source: Bighorn National Forest)