October 7, 2016

Dick Neill, an attorney for the Department of Game Fish and Parks, told the commission that it didn’t have the authority to cancel and rescind the new three-day nonresident waterfowl issued this year. He said that although he understood the disgust waterfowl hunters feel, the department’s actions were in response to the legislature, which has preeminence over the commission.

George Vandel, Vice-president of the South Dakota Waterfowl Association, said he wasn’t surprised that the commission was unwilling to confront the legislature on the issue, even though the legislature did give the commission authority over nonresident waterfowl licenses. “The commissioners are in a difficult position having voted unanimously in 2015 to reject the very action the legislature took in 2016. To respond by cancelling the legislative action, while the right thing to do, would have been tough.”

According to Chris Hesla, the executive director the South Dakota Wildlife Federation, the next step is to go back to the legislature. “We have lost a third of our resident waterfowl hunters in the last 15 years. We think that legislators will see that there’s a connection between that loss and loss of opportunity driven by too much hunting pressure.”