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Pheasant Habitat Summit Looks At The Future Of Hunting In South Dakota

December 6, 2013, 10:14 PM by Leland Steva

Pheasant Habitat Summit Looks At The Future Of Hunting In South Dakota

This year's pheasant season wasn't as successful as years past with the number of birds and hunters down.

Pheasant hunting is a tradition around South Dakota, but last year the numbers dipped in the wrong direction.

"We lost license sales really across the board. Our non-residence license sales were down about 20 percent and I would say about the same number for our resident hunting license sales," Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Park said.

Governor Dennis Daugaard hosted today's Pheasant Habitat Summit. The event looked at how the state can provide the proper habitat for pheasants while balancing the needs of the state's other staple, agriculture.

"My family farms. I'm also a hunter. So I see it from both the landowners perspective, and the sportsman's perspective, and so I think it's important to bring both of those perspectives together with policy makers and try and find agreed on a set of solutions that we can all get behind," Governor Dennis Daugaard said.

This is not just a state issue, as Senator John Thune says the farm bill being debated in Washington has programs that will promote conservation as well as wildlife production.

"The 1985 Farm Bill which created the conservation Reserve Program in the 1st place lead to a boom in the number of pheasants in our state and the one thing you want to have over time is consistency in policy that will create those favorable and right conditions for growth of pheasant populations," Senator John Thune said. 

Landowners, sportsmen, and members of the tourism industry all spoke at the summit today. Daugaard believes the different viewpoints can lead to a solution that can help the state move forward.

"Lots of different ideas are coming out today, and that's the whole point of getting together today. Get a lot of ideas from a lot of stake holders and find common ground," Daugaard said.

The Pheasant season brings in around $170 million to the state every year, including over 100,000 out-of-state visitors.

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