It's cold, wet and rainy today at this wetland west of Sioux Falls, the perfect day for duck hunting.
But there are no shotgun blasts here today. Federal officials have closed this land because of a shutdown of the federal government tied to a budget dispute in Washington D.C.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has closed more than 700 Waterfowl Production Areas across eastern South Dakota to hunting. The agency began notifying hunters this week, just days into the duck season in this area.
Hunters including Matt Staab of Sioux Falls are especially upset because the Waterfowl Production Areas were purchased with duck stamps bought by waterfowl hunters.
"To close a public hunting area because a bunch of idiot politicians can't get together makes no sense to me," Stabb said.
It makes no sense to the state Game, Fish and Parks Department, either. State wildlife officers will check hunters found on WPAs for proper licenses and other regulations but will not enforce the closure. Meanwhile, hunters will have to focus on state hunting ground and private land leased by the state for public hunting. Those areas will remain open and are likely to be especially busy during the shutdown.
"We've got waterfowl seasons on, our pheasant season is going to open this weekend, the youth season, and in a couple of weeks the main season is on. So it's going to cut down on the amount of public land that hunters will be able to use."