GFP Commission OKs South Dakota bounty program on predators

KELO Game Fish and Parks Department

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission adopted rules Friday for its new bounty program that pays resident trappers $10 per tail April 1 through Aug. 31 for raccoon, badger, striped skunk, red fox and opossum.

Former GFP Secretary John Cooper had read a letter of opposition Thursday to the commission during the first day of the meeting at GFP’s Outdoor West Campus in Rapid City. The meeting was simulcast live on the Internet both days.

The new rules now go to the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee, whose six members will decide whether they can take effect. Up to $500,000 would be paid to trappers this year.

New Gov. Kristi Noem wanted the predator-trapping program as part of her Second Century habitat initiative.

The Legislature on March 29 approved the governor’s proposal earmarking $1 million of state general funds for habitat development as matching funds for private donations and federal aid. The new law takes effect June 28.

The bounties are separate from the $1 million for habitat development. Bounty money will come from the state Game, Fish and Parks Department’s current budget. Several commissioners spoke in support of the bounty rules Friday morning.

Commissioner Doug Sharp of Watertown gave them his “full support” and said he looked forward to the results.

Commissioner Russ Olson of Wentworth said it’s about more than helping pheasant populations in eastern South Dakota.

“I think it will help with other nesting birds west of the (Missouri) river as well,” Olson said.

The governor spoke at the department’s habitat summit in Pierre last week. George Vandel of Pierre, a former deputy state Wildlife Division director, told Noem he disagreed with her bounty program. But a landowner in the audience said traps placed on a piece of his land caught many predators.

The department is hosting training for trappers. As of Friday morning, openings remained in Hot Springs, Philip, Yankton, Mobridge, Aberdeen and Faith.  The list of dates and locations is available online.

The governor issued a column to news organizations Friday headlined, “Advancing Habitat.”

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