Traps can remain on public lands and in rights of way through August 31, SDGFP panel decides

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A petition to reduce the period when live traps can be on public lands and improved rights of way in South Dakota was unanimously rejected Thursday by the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission.

Nancy Hilding of Black Hawk, president of the Prairie Hills Audubon Society, presented the petition. She said Susan Braunstein of Rapid City and Kathy and Wolfgang Schmidt of Nemo also proposed it.

The commission changed a rule in 2019 to accommodate the nest-predator bounty program that Governor Kristi Noem sought. The rule previously called for traps to be off public lands and improved rights of way May 1. The 2019 change allowed the traps to remain through August 31.

The commission this year changed the bounty program, so that it runs through June 30, but didn’t change the August 31 deadline for removing traps.

“Why do we have the extra two months when we don’t have the nest-predator bounty program running?” Hilding asked.

The program opened April 1.

State Wildlife Division director Tom Kirschenmann opposed the petition. Kirschenmann said the bounty program fit within the existing rule and the division supports allowing people to continue trapping predators on public lands and rights of way after the bounty program ends.

Commissioner Doug Sharp of Watertown said the petition wouldn’t be workable if it required traps be removed on the same day the program ends. Sharp said he could support requiring that traps be removed from public lands and rights of way 10 days afterward.

Commissioner Mary Ann Boyd of Yankton agreed with Sharp that the petition wouldn’t be workable.

Commissioner Russ Olson of Wentworth described trappers as “a dying breed” who aren’t “heartless murderers” as they have been portrayed by some.

Olson opposed the petition. “And I’m not looking to throw it a life preserver either,” he said.

The vote was 8-0 to deny the petition.

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