No fooling! South Dakota’s nest-predator trapping program starts again on April 1

Capitol News Bureau

Courtesy South Dakota Trappers Association

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Come next month, South Dakota residents can start collecting $10 per tail again for each raccoon, badger, red fox, skunk and possum they turn in at many state Game, Fish and Parks Department offices.

That’s right, nest-predator trapping will be back throughout South Dakota, starting April 1, for the third spring in a row.

The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission officially decided Friday to again offer the program that Governor Kristi Noem started after she took office in 2019.

The program had been cut back to $250,000 of funding last year. But commissioners are restoring it to the original $500,000 level.

The 2021 season will run April 1 through July 1. In 2022 the season will be March 1 through July 1 for youths younger than age 18, and April 1-July 1 for those 18 and older.

As with so many of South Dakota’s outdoors regulations, there is fine print. Participants will need to have a South Dakota hunting, fishing or trapping license unless:

They are landowners trapping on their own lands; or

They are under age 16 for the 2021 season; or

They are under age 18 for the 2022 season.

The commission in January considered starting the season March 15 for everyone. But a new law takes effect July 1 that expands the definition of youth to anyone younger than age 18 for GFP licenses.

That led commissioner Robert Whitmyre of Webster to suggest Friday making an adjustment.

Further complicating matters, an existing state law says, “A license to take furbearing animals is not required for residents to trap raccoon, skunk, opossum, badger, jackrabbit, fox, and coyote between April first and August thirty-first.”

 Whitmyre suggested perhaps letting the program run until $500,000 was paid in bounties. “If we haven’t met that I’m not sure we want to just cut that off,” he said.

But commissioner Doug Sharp of Watertown said he’s comfortable stopping it after July 1. “The major nesting season hopefully will be done by July 1,” he said. Commissioner Travis Bies of Fairburn agreed with Sharp.

The purposes of the program are to get youth involved in trapping and to remove some of the non-protected animals known to prey on pheasants and waterfowl, especially during spring nesting.

The department’s wildlife-damage administrator, Keith Fisk, said there will be a weekly give-away of trapping equipment to youths during the season. “There’s quite a bit of excitement built up around the program,” he said.

Kevin Robling, the department’s interim secretary, suggested extending the end of the program through July 15. He said the department’s staff should have a definite end date while knowing the bounties would be stopped when $500,000 was reached.

But Sharp said he remained comfortable with July 1.

Robling said he expects to see “a fantastic pheasant season” and “a great waterfowl season” this fall.  For more on the program, go here.

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