Game Farm “Takings” Legal Challenge Fails
Since the successful passage of the sportsmen’s Ballot Initiative I-143 in November 2000 that put in statute new regulations governing game farms and captive shooting operations, there have been more than a dozen legal challenges. In each of the cases where a court handed down a ruling the initiative has been upheld; these rulings came from state district courts, the federal district court, the Montana Supreme Court, the 9th Circuit of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court.
One of the significant issues that has continued to linger due to legal challenges is referenced as the possibility that the regulations constituted a “takings” of property.
In December 2008, Montana Supreme Court justices voted 4-3 that two similar challenges filed in 2006 did not constitute a “taking” of property; game farm owners were not due any compensation and obligated to abide by the regulations put in place with I-143. MWF was an intervener in these law suits as a friend of the State and FWP.
In June 2009, the game farmers challenged that State decision with an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court requesting a “writ of certiorari” acknowledging the appeal. If the Court agreed, the justices would have been asked to overturn the Montana Supreme Court ruling.
In October, the U.S. Supreme Court justices released their decision to not hear arguments against the Montana Supreme Court ruling, the appeal failed. The denial reinforced the lower court decisions that I-143 did not constitute a “takings”. I-143 has not prevented game farm owners from raising or selling permitted game species for meat, antlers or animal products, or propagation but does prohibit shooting captive species or high fenced hunting for remuneration in Montana.