Idaho Enacts Law Declaring The State Has Primacy Over Resident Fish And Wildlife

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The State of Idaho enacted a law (pdf) this spring asserting that the State has “primacy over the management of fish and wildlife.” The law was introduced as Senate Bill 1061 and signed into law by Governor Butch Otter on March 22, 2013. In addition, the law states that “introduction or reintroduction of any federally listed species onto lands within the state or into state waters, including those actions that would impair or impede the state's primacy over its land and water, without state consultation and approval is against the policy of the state of Idaho.” The law plainly is intended to provide State officials with an additional tool as it negotiates with federal officials regarding threatened and endangered species. As one reporter who covered the enactment of the law explained,

“In theory, the bill gives the state final say on whether or how endangered or threatened plants and animals are introduced in the state. Reality could be different, though…”

(Capitol Press, May 13, 2013 by Sean Ellis.) The Supremacy Clause, Article VI, clause 2, of the U.S. Constitution, establishes that federal law is supreme provided it is consistent with the Constitution. Together with the federal Endangered Species Act, the Supremacy Clause likely limits the effect of this Idaho law.