2019 nest-predator program is done, but pics still wanted

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Monday marked the end of South Dakota’s new program that Governor Kristi Noem launched in April to reduce populations of nest predators that feed on game birds and their young.

But a spokeswoman for the state Game, Fish and Parks Department said the photo contest for trappers and their families that accompanied it will stay open through August 31.

The new governor, who grew up on a farm and whose family was once involved in a commercial pheasant-hunting operation, doesn’t know whether the effort will show clear results.

“The overall impact on the pheasant population has yet to be determined. Game, Fish and Parks is conducting the brood survey report right now, so we’ll have a better idea of the population in a few weeks,” Kristin Wileman, the governor’s press secretary, said Tuesday night.

“It’s important to note, though, that it can take several years for real results to show start showing. Other factors like the long and harsh winter and wet summer can sway the numbers, too,” Wileman said.

Trappers who were residents of South Dakota were paid $10 per tail for each raccoon, striped skunk, badger, red fox or opossum turned in at the department’s offices spread throughout the state.

The final count on a GFP website showed trappers reported taking 54,512 nest predators. The site shows statewide and county totals by species. South Dakota’s most-populous county, Minnehaha, reported the highest total, followed by Beadle, Yankton, Turner and Grant.

There was a $500,000 overall cap and a $590 household limit. GFP spokeswoman Jona Ohm said 153 households reached the maximum. “That may increase over the next few days as we tabulate the final numbers,” she said.

The program had terms and conditions, as did the photo contest.

South Dakota had the third-lowest pheasant harvest in 2019 during the past decade.

Here are questions and answers between KELOLAND reporter Bob Mercer and Jona Ohm, communication director for the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department.

How many photos have been submitted? We have received over 150 entries for the trapping photo contest and entries are still coming in.

Has there been any change in the pace of submissions? For example, small interest early, more interest lately. There was a very strong interest at the beginning, but submissions seemed to follow the weather. Nice weather translated to more submissions. As summer activities and heat started, submissions slowed down, but we have continued to receive submissions through the summer.

Any counties that substantially showed more interest? Submissions are made through email, so we don’t have this information.

How will the winners be decided? We have had two winners so far and are still reviewing entries for the remaining three winners. Preference has been given to participants who:

Have a story along with their entry.  We have been very pleased with the stories that have come in along with photos. 

Display respect to the catch.  Photos that show excessive blood and/or lack of respect to the animal will not be selected.

Emphasize family and youth outdoors.

When will the winners get their live traps? Winners already announced have received their prizes. Staff will work with family schedules to deliver traps in person as quickly as possible.

What’s the value of each live-trap prize package? Prizes include a live trap and other items like hats, raccoon/predator bait donated by DakotaMart here in Pierre and various other items. The packages vary slightly as we have done our best to coordinate the specifics with the story behind the photo (i.e. boys trying to catch a raccoon, but caught a skunk received raccoon bait) and to make sure other siblings in the home receive something as well. 

Through communication with the family we’ve been able to get a head count and make sure we include enough stickers, patches, temporary tattoos, et cetera, to make sure everyone gets something. 

Any questions I should have covered but didn’t? Even though the bounty program has ended, the photo contest will go on! We will continue accepting entries through August 31.

To enter: Submit your photo via email to nick.harrington@state.sd.us along with your name, address and telephone number. Photos shared on your personal social media accounts must use the hashtag #SecondCenturyTrapper to be eligible and must also be submitted via email.

I didn’t see a provision for timetable in the guidelines on the webpage


and presumed that the traps would be awarded at the conclusion of the contest, which runs through Aug. 31. Can you more fully explain? We had some great submissions and wanted to award a couple of the prizes to continue to promote the program.

That triggered a related question about the semi-related live-trap giveaway sponsored by GFP this spring. At the time there were expectations it would take months to get all of the traps from the manufacturers. Have all of the free traps now been distributed from GFP? Not yet. You are correct about it taking months to receive all the traps. I believe we are set to receive the remainder in October and will distribute them as soon as we can get in touch with people.

And now a third question: How does GFP intend to use the trapping photos? By entering the contest, participants gave their permission for the photos to be used on social platforms and in other communications, like email or newsletters. We don’t have any specific plans for the photos in the immediate future.

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