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Gerald, Esq
Gerald, Esq, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  30 years of experience
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Can an Indian Reservation sell me wildlife that is listed as

Customer Question

Can an Indian Reservation sell me wildlife that is listed as (Endangered by the State) where the Reservation is located ?
Can the Indian Tribe ship the wildlife to me by domestic airline ?
Any issues with the Lacey Act ?
The wildlife is not Federally listed as Endangered or Threatened.
I was told that Tribal Law over rules State Law because the American Indians are Known as (Domestic Dependent Nation).
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Gerald, Esq replied 1 year ago.
Hello,
Thank you for using Just Answer. I want to provide you the best service I can. Please feel free to ask any follow up questions you have.
I am an attorney with 30 years of experience; I hope to provide you information that will help you in resolving your question.
The short answer to your question is that NO you will not be able to lawfully obtain wildlife that is listed on a State's endangered species list, even if purchased lawfully on a Native American Reservation.
It is true that the Supreme Court of the United States determined in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 30 U.S. 1 (1831), that tribal governments are neither "states" nor are "foreign states." But rather under Article III of the Constitution they are considered "domestic dependent nations." As a consequence the Tribal Authorities are vested with broad discretionary authority in regard to the governing of the tribal territorial areas (Reservations).
This means that for example, gambling may occur on reservations even if the state in which the reservation is situated prohibits gambling. However, the authority of the Tribe ends at the reservation's border. For example, tobacco products may be sold on the reservation with the tribe collecting state sales tax. But the State will pursue and collect the tax from the buyer when the product is shipped off the reservation. (You should note that the Tribal Authorities cooperate with the state revenue agencies and will report the name and address of internet tobacco purchasers to those agencies.)
Likewise, the Tribe may be able to sell endangered species on the reservation. But once the wildlife leaves the reservation, federal and state law applies. As you pointed out the Lacey Act has application here. Under the Lacey Act, it is unlawful to "import, export, sell, acquire, or purchase fish, wildlife or plants that are taken, possessed, transported, or sold: 1) in violation of U.S. or Indian law, or 2) in interstate or foreign commerce involving any fish, wildlife, or plants taken possessed or sold in violation of State or foreign law."
Also, you should note that the Tribal Authorities do work with the Federal Fish and Wildlife Services. See here:
http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/tribes-overview.html
The law covers all fish and wildlife and their parts or products, plants protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and those protected by State law.
Once the wildlife leaves the reservation and is transported interstate, the Lacey Act will apply and the possession or transportation will be violations of the law.
Here is a link to the Lacey Act:
http://www.fws.gov/international/laws-treaties-agreements/us-conservation-laws/lacey-act.html
As a consequence, even if the Tribal Authorities would authorize the sale of state endangered Wildlife, removing that wildlife from the reservation would violate federal law (which also enforces the endangered species categorization made by a State).
I hope the information I have provided is useful to you. I want you to be comfortable and satisfied with my attempt to assist you. Please, if you have ANY follow up questions, feel free to ask. Please note that I am generally unavailable Friday evening through Sunday.
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Good luck.
Please note: Information is educational and not given as legal advice. Only your local attorney can give legal advice. I can't establish or accept an attorney-client relationship with you. All posts are available for public viewing.