U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Aug 20, 2019
(a) In general the States possess broad trustee and police powers over fish and wildlife within their borders, including fish and wildlife found on Federal lands within a State. Under the Property Clause of the Constitution, Congress is given the power to “make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.” In the exercise of power under the Property Clause, Congress may choose to preempt State management of fish and wildlife on Federal lands and, in circumstances where the exercise of power under the Commerce Clause is available, Congress may choose to establish restrictions on the taking of fish and wildlife whether or not the activity occurs on Federal lands, as well as to establish restrictions on possessing, transporting, importing, or exporting fish and wildlife. Finally, a third source of Federal constitutional authority for the management of fish and wildlife is the treaty making power. This authority was first recognized in the negotiation of a migratory bird treaty with Great Britain on behalf of Canada in 1916.
(b) The exercise of Congressional power through the enactment of Federal fish and wildlife conservation statutes has generally been associated with the establishment of regulations more restrictive than those of State law. The power of Congress respecting the taking of fish and wildlife has been exercised as a restrictive regulatory power, except in those situations where the taking of these resources is necessary to protect Federal property. With these exceptions, and despite the existence of constitutional power respecting fish and wildlife on Federally owned lands, Congress has, in fact, reaffirmed the basic responsibility and authority of the States to manage fish and resident wildlife on Federal lands.
(c) Congress has charged the Secretary of the Interior with responsibilities for the management of certain fish and wildlife resources, e.g., endangered and threatened species, migratory birds, certain marine mammals, and certain aspects of the management of some anadromous fish. However, even in these specific instances, with the limited exception of marine mammals, State jurisdiction remains concurrent with Federal authority.