The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld Iowa's hunting laws with a ruling last week that says just because someone owns land in Iowa it doesn't mean they have a right to hunt on it. In a decision handed down on December 6 the court said Iowa's laws that provide hunting advantages to permanent residents do not violate the constitutional rights of nonresident landowners.
Three men who own land in Iowa but have permanent homes in other states challenged Iowa's hunting laws as unconstitutional claiming the law discriminates against nonresident landowners. The men objected to Iowa laws that make more hunting licenses available to permanent residents at a lower price.
The Supreme Court ruling last week says Iowa lawmakers have developed a system of hunting laws that results in the conclusion "that land ownership in Iowa is not accompanied by the right to hunt on one's own land."
Iowa's hunting laws favor residents over nonresidents in getting a license to hunt in Iowa
You have certain rights when you own property, whether you are a resident or a nonresident, explains Joe Wilkinson, an official with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in Des Moines. The court ruled that one of those rights is not the right to hunt.
The DNR only grants a certain number of licenses per year. The law favors Iowa residents when getting a license. Out-of-state residents (even if they own land in Iowa) are thrown into a lottery when they apply for a license. Thus, people who own land in Iowa but live out of state aren't always able to get a license to hunt on it. Out-of-state applicants who do end up lucky enough to get a license to hunt in Iowa have to pay a higher price than permanent residents for a license. That's another part of the law that irks nonresidents who want to hunt here, especially those who own land in Iowa.