Lawmakers’ red lights cause special meeting for South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Game Fish and Parks Department

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The political circus roared back to town Friday afternoon, as the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission suddenly announced it plans a special meeting Thursday, May 23.

The 8 a.m. CT teleconference will deal with several topics that new Governor Kristi Noem wanted but the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee sent back May 6.

Four of the committee’s six lawmakers and the governor are Republicans but their political affiliation didn’t mean they sang from the same page on her outdoor plans.

The meeting won’t be livestreamed via South Dakota Public Broadcasting, but a recording will be immediately placed on the commission webpage, the news release said. The site is

The four topics will be:

Free entrance to West Bend State Recreation Area for enrolled Crow Creek tribal members;

Application fees and processes for new packages of big-game licenses to be drawn by lottery; and

Extending the trapping season through August 31 on public lands and road rights of way for some species of predators: raccoons, striped skunks, badgers, opossums and red fox

Legislators returned those rule proposals, as well as others, to the commission for further work rather than letting them take effect.

The rejections led GFP to hurriedly order traps removed by May 12 from areas that in previous years had been closed as of May 1.

The governor also wanted the commission to sell chances to win three sets of big-game licenses and one Custer State Park bison license as part of the governor’s new Hunt For Habitat program.

Many sportsmen have questioned the worth of Noem’s program that pays $10 per tail for raccoons, striped skunks, badgers, opossums and red fox. The program is capped at $500,000. Noem sees them as threats to pheasants and other game birds especially during nesting season.

There also has been opposition to the Legislature appropriating $1 million for Noem to use for matching other money as investment in habitat programs.

Citizens can testify Thursday at four locations:

Pierre, GFP second-floor conference room, Foss Building, 523 E. Capitol Avenue;

Sioux Falls, GFP Regional Office (Outdoor Campus East), 4500 S Oxbow Avenue;

Rapid City, GFP Regional Office (Outdoor Campus West), 4130 Adventure Trail; and

Watertown, GFP Regional Office, 400 W. Kemp Avenue.

People can also comment online at … or mail comments to 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501. To be in the public record and considered by the commission, full name and city are needed.

GFP attorney Jon Kotilnek issued this statement Friday evening:

“Monday is the last day to submit a public comment by statute. However, it is the practice of the department and commission to make every effort to include all public comments received after the deadline in order to inform the commission as great as possible.”

Kotilnek continued: “Comments received the day of the commission (meeting) sometimes do not make it to the commission due to logistics. But again, every effort is made to ensure all public comments that are received in a timely manner are shared with the commission.” 

The special meeting’s agenda is at: …

Audio from the rules review meeting is at

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