GFP Commission tries again on South Dakota habitat rules

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Game Fish and Parks Department

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) – Their first try didn’t succeed. So South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission members went to the plate again Thursday for Governor Kristi Noem.

They held a special teleconference and approved for a second time some rules that a panel of the Legislature rejected earlier this month. They also decided to scale down a trapping proposal so only live traps could be used on public lands and road rights of way from May 1 through August 31.

The commission wants to sell raffle chances for four special sets of big-game hunting licenses.

The raffle would be open to anyone at $10 per ticket to a South Dakotan and $20 per ticket to a nonresident. There wouldn’t be any limit on tickets a person could buy.

 Any participant could win the license to hunt a Custer State Park bison.

The other licenses would feature a triple-tag of an elk, a deer and an antelope. Hunters could decide which regular season they want to pursue each species and each tag would be valid for two years.

If a nonresident won a triple-tag set, all other non-residents would become ineligible for the other two sets.

“It’s a key part of Governor Noem’s Second Century Initiative,” state Wildlife Division Director Tony Leif (life) said.

The Legislature approved SB 153 last session giving the commission authority to charge the application fees.

Noem wants to raise money for wildlife habitat.

The Legislature’s Rules Review Committee wouldn’t let those proposals advance May 6. The panel meets again June 3.

The state Game, Fish and Parks Department is preparing “a marketing splash” July 1 through August 15 both within and outside South Dakota to sell raffle chances, GFP Deputy Secretary Kevin Robling said.

The campaign would occur through emails, radio ads, social-media outlets, outdoor publications and outdoor groups.

“It is a short window,” Robling said.

GFP plans a separate website specifically for the raffle that will let an applicant enter name, address, credit-card info and ticket numbers without having to build a profile required for other license applications.

The commission also decided to approve allowing only live-traps on public lands and road rights-of-way from May 1 through August 31. Their previous plan called for all legal traps and snares to be allowed in those places during that period. All traps must be removed May 1 under current rule.

Commissioner Mary Anne Boyd of Yankton suggested the change Thursday. Boyd and GFP Secretary Kelly Hepler met recently with several legislators on the review panel.

Commissioner Scott Phillips of rural New Underwood supported Boyd’s change but voted against the final version. Phillips said public comments ran heavily against trapping generally and specifically against Noem’s nest-predator program.

“Leave the public land alone,” Phillips said.

The governor’s program offers a $10 bounty per tail for each raccoon, red fox, badger, opossum and striped skunk, with spending capped at $500,000.

Several citizens who testified Thursday spoke for and against trapping. On one side, a supporter said more than 20 raccoons had been taken off his 43 acres. On the other side, a woman said it taught sadism to children.

Commissioner Russ Olson of Wentworth said many people don’t have access to private land.

Commissioner Travis Bies of Fairburn said dogs or other pets could be retrieved from live traps while a leg-hold trap or snare could cause damage or death.

Commissioner Doug Sharp of Watertown said the nest-predator results would be reviewed after the first year. More than 18,000 tails have been turned in so far.   

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