GFP Commission delays decision whether to renew S.D. nest-predator program

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission took testimony Thursday afternoon but decided to wait another day to say whether there will be a second year of the nest-predator bounty program in South Dakota.

New Governor Kristi Noem convinced the state Game, Fish and Parks Department to start it last year.

“We’re going to address it in the morning (Friday), taking into account everything we’ve read and heard,” commission chairman Gary Jensen of Rapid City told KELOLAND News.

The governor appoints the commission’s eight members.

About 15 men and women spoke against continuing it Thursday, including all 10 who testified by telephone from the department’s Outdoor Campus West in Rapid City.

“For the money it would cost, we could have a lot more habitat,” said Carol Merwin of Rapid City. She called the program “repugnant.”

The commission received more than 400 written comments and 27 were positive, according to another Rapid City opponent. (Comments 1, 2 and 3.)

One supporter, Wayne Lloyd of Wentworth, testified in person.

The department paid trappers who were residents of South Dakota $10 per tail for each raccoon, striped skunk, badger, red fox or opossum turned in at GFP offices.

There was a $500,000 overall cap and a $590 household limit.

This year, the department has asked the commission to consider paying $5 per tail and also letting people shoot any of the five species. The program would start April 1 and continue to July 1, 2020.

Nancy Hilding, president of the Prairie Hills Audubon Society, said Thursday the commission will have spent about $2 million over the two years, including the costs of giving away hundreds of live traps last year.

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.

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

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