Copyright (c) 1993 Idaho Law Review
Idaho Law Review
GRAZING RIGHTS ON PUBLIC LANDS: WAYNE HAGE COMPLAINS OF A TAKING
30 Idaho L. Rev. 603
Theodore Blank *
Do cows have rights? Do owners of "these ugly, clumsy, stupid, bawling, stinking, fly-covered, shit-smeared, disease-spreading brutes" 1 have a constitutionally protected right to graze their livestock on our public lands? Rancher and author Wayne Hage contends that he owns such a grazing right and the federal government's interference with this right is a Fifth Amendment 2 taking that requires just compensation. 3
Wayne Hage is not alone in his belief. Faced with increasing federal regulation, 4 the sons and daughters of the Sagebrush Rebel
lion are insisting they have a right to continue their traditional use of the public lands; 5 political representatives have been called upon to rectify agency "over regulation" 6 and regulatory enforcement has been answered with defiance. 7 Hage likens this dissension to a gathering storm, its impetus being the violation of legal rights. In his book, Storm over Rangelands, 8 Hage argues that a rancher's right to
graze livestock on public lands is supported by both case law and statute. Seeking to establish this legal right, Hage filed a complaint in federal court. 9 The complaint mirrors other pending and threatened court actions, all of which raise a claim to a constitutionally protected property interest in public lands. 10 Using Wayne Hage's case as the paradigm, this Comment will answer the question raised by Hage's complaint: Is a rancher who has traditionally grazed livestock on public lands entitled to just compensation when that use is abridged by federal ...
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