DEADWOOD, S.D. (KELO) — What happens to one-day licenses for nonresidents who want to fish in South Dakota won’t be known for at least another month.
The state Division of Wildlife wants to eliminate the nonresident one-day licenses, because hundreds of anglers are buying three or more of them and, in the process, sidestepping the requirement that they also buy a South Dakota habitat stamp.
The Legislature requires most hunters, trappers and anglers age 18 and older to buy the stamp. But the 2020 law’s final sentence says the stamp isn’t required “for the one-day hunting or fishing license, youth hunting license, private shooting preserve license, hunt for habitat application fee, or landowner hunting license.”
The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission considered the proposal to get rid of them on Thursday, but chose to hold off until its November meeting to decide what to do.
State Wildlife Division director Tom Kirschenmann said the habitat stamp revenue from fishing licenses is a financial resource for uses such as boat docks, roads and fish habitat. Residents pay $10 and nonresidents twenty-five.
“We understand any time you start talking about licenses and license fees, you’re going to get a lot of comments,” he said. “They’re never easy discussions, but we appreciate the input, the public input.”
According to Kirschenmann, the commission doesn’t need to propose a rule change. He said the license could simply be eliminated for the 2024 season that starts December fifteenth of 2023.
On the other hand, if the commission took a different approach such as a fee increase, he said a rule change would have to be proposed. If that is the route chosen, he said the absolute earliest the increase could take effect would be April 2024. That’s because it would need clearance from the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee, whose final meeting of 2023 is scheduled for November 7.
Commissioner Travis Bies of Fairburn suggested tabling the matter for another month to get more public comment. “We would still be in an okay position to implement if that was the desire,” Kirschenmann replied.
Commissioner Julie Bartling of Gregory, who’s a former legislator, asked about having the Legislature consider amending the law to cover one-day licenses. Kirschenmann said that hadn’t yet been discussed.
The 2024 legislative session opens January 9 and ends March twenty-fifth.
Commissioner Robert Whitmyre of Webster wants something done. “We’ve got an upside-down situation that should be remedied,” he said. “We’re not getting any contribution (from nonresidents) with this particular situation.”
Kirschenmann said the division could develop more information if the commission decides to look at a license-fee change. Commissioner Jim White of Huron said the one-day license has been abused by some nonresidents.
The commission’s chair, Stephanie Rissler of Vermillion, said there hadn’t been many comments from the public — until a burst in the last few days. “The night before we were to meet today, we’re hearing from a lot of people,” she said.
Some of those opponents spoke during the meeting Thursday, including Mike and Gary Allen, who are fishing guides and own a motel at Chamberlain.
“We feel that will impact 30 percent of our guide and outfitter business,” Mike Allen said, and in turn affect other local businesses where nonresidents spend money. “We don’t want to have people going someplace else.”
Gary Allen said getting rid of the one-day option, which costs nonresidents sixteen dollars, and forcing them to buy a three-day license that would cost sixty-two dollars including the habitat stamp, “should be thrown out.”
Rissler said people are abusing the system. She agreed with Bies that the decision should be delayed a month, because she wants to ask questions of “the folks who have reached out to us.”
“I would like to have the opportunity to visit with the public about this information,” she said.