The South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Commission turned its back on resident waterfowl hunters and threw their support behind commercial interests at their April 6-7, 2017 meeting. The commission proposed to take 1,500 three-day nonresident licenses originally intended exclusively for the Missouri River unit near Pierre and sell them statewide. According to Bill Antonides, past president of the South Dakota Wildlife Federation’s Camo Coalition, the proposal would have disastrous consequences. “In practice, these licenses will be sold in the eastern tier of South Dakota counties where there’s already far too much pressure on our fields and sloughs. Flooding the state with a huge jump in the number of nonresident waterfowl hunters would push that pressure to intolerable levels for both residents and nonresidents.”
Prior to making its proposal, the commission rejected the joint proposal of the South Dakota Waterfowl Association and the South Dakota Wildlife Federation to eliminate all but 500 three-day licenses and reduce the number of nonresident ten-day licenses. “The commission doesn’t accept that the reason we’ve lost one-third of our resident waterfowl hunters in the last 15 years is because there isn’t a reasonable opportunity to hunt successfully without paying,” says Chris Hesla, executive director of the South Dakota Wildlife Federation. “Even though their own survey and a 2016 national survey by Delta Waterfowl leave no doubt about the facts, the commission can’t seem to accept the reality.”
George Vandel, vice-president of the South Dakota Waterfowl Association, says the commission is making a grave mistake in selling resident waterfowl hunters short. “The commission is listening to commercial interests that make claims that nonresident waterfowl hunters are more important to the state’s economy than resident hunters. Even after losing one-third of our resident waterfowl hunters, the commission’s just released data shows we annually contribute $33.5 million to the state’s economy in the pursuit of waterfowl–nearly twice the amount as nonresidents.”
The commission’s proposal would make the 1,500 three-day nonresident licenses currently limited to counties along the Missouri River and six counties in northcentral South Dakota available in all counties east of the Missouri River with the exception of Marshall, Roberts, Day, Grant, Clark, Codington, Deuel, Hamlin in the northeast and Union, clay, Yankton, Bon Home and Charles Mix in the southeast. These licenses would be limited to private land. The commission didn’t accept a proposal to increase the number of nonresident 10-day licenses by five percent each year until the total number doubled at 8,000.
The commission encourages public comments on their proposal during the 60-day period prior to a decision on finalization at their June 8-9, 2017 meeting in Chamberlain, South Dakota. Comments can be sent to email@example.com
Contact: Chris Hesla 605-224-7524; George Vandel 605-295-2880; Bill Antonides 605-380-8586