President’s message – George Vandel, Pierre
February 23, 2020

SB 150, the bill to increase nonresident waterfowl hunting opportunity as amended on the Senate floor was passed on the Senate floor Friday (Feb. 21) afternoon.  The bill changes the 3,775 10-day permits into two 5-day licenses.  If passed through the House it would put the nonresident waterfowl license days in line with the nonresident pheasant hunting days.

The bill will increase nonresident hunting opportunity.  By allowing 3,775 hunters to have a return trip, it potentially doubles the number of nonresident waterfowl hunters in SD this fall.  It does nothing for resident waterfowl hunters except give us more nonresident hunters.  It will create more conflicts between residents and nonresidents and it will cause the number of resident waterfowl hunter to decline.  It throws our resident hunters under the bus in the hope that motels, bars and C-stores owners can make an extra buck!  Once again resident hunters are being told by GFP and the Governor to just suck it up.

I won’t bore you with details but we were told action would not occur until Monday.  Apparently they determined that according to Senate rules, they could take action on Friday so that’s what they did.  We worked very hard to try and amend the bill to something we could better live with.  Our actions were unsuccessful and frankly were ignored.  They counted noses and once they determined they had the votes to pass it, negotiations with us ceased. The “they” in this case was the Gov. and GFP.

SB 150 will now go to the House, I assume the House Ag and Natural Resources Committee.  If passed out of Committee it goes to the House floor.  If passed by the House, un-amended, it goes to the Governor for signature and becomes law on July 1st – in plenty of time for the fall 2020 season.  If amended in the House in any way it goes to a conference committee and back to the Senate for a vote.  It’ safe to assume that GFP and the Gov don’t want any additional changes to the bill.

I’m going to continue working with our Friends with the Wildlife Federation but our only recourse now is to fight and kill SB 150 in the House.  If we can muster the same support from you, our members, we have a strong chance to be successful.

I’m going to put together a message strategy and will update you as soon as I have a date for this bill to hit the House for action – in the House Ag and Natural Resources Committee.  I’m not very optimistic we can kill this in Committee but will try.  Our best hope is to kill it on the House floor.

Call or text me at 605-295-2880 or e-mail me direct at gvan3@pie.midco.net if you have questions.

Our main issues 1) expand and increase quality waterfowl hunting access opportunities in South Dakota 2) maintain quality waterfowl hunting in our state by balancing nonresident waterfowl hunter numbers such that they not create undue conflicts with resident waterfowl hunters and 3) ensure that commercialization of waterfowl hunting in South Dakota remains low.

Board: John Simpson – Pierre, Spencer Vaa – Brookings, Tom Yseth – Brookings and Bill Koupal – Pierre.  Bobby Cox will serve as Secretary Treasurer and Chuck Dieter will serve as Past-president.