For Immediate Release

October 10, 2016

Waterfowl Hunters Frustrated by High
Bird Numbers and Low Hunting Opportunities
Number of South Dakota Hunters Falling

South Dakota’s two largest waterfowl hunting organizations are starting a campaign to increase the resident waterfowl hunters in the state from the current 30,000 to 37,500 in the next 10 years.

George Vandel, vice-president of The South Dakota Waterfowl Association and Chris Hesla, executive director of the South Dakota Wildlife Federation said that the number of resident waterfowl hunters has plummeted by nearly a third from 43,500 to 30,000 in the last 15 years. “Hunting ducks and geese has been a great tradition in South Dakota,” says Vandel, “but that tradition is being lost because of the lack of opportunity.”

According to Hesla, a South Dakota Game Fish Parks survey showed that a shortage of good places to hunt was one of the major reasons respondents no longer hunt waterfowl.  For those who continue to hunt, it was the single most significant cause of their growing dissatisfaction with the sport. “We have had a record high number of ducks and geese, and the tragedy is that the opportunities to hunt them has been at a record low.” Hesla cites the draining of the state’s wetlands, fierce competition among hunters and increased commercialization as the driving forces behind the loss of opportunity. “The result is a continuing decline in the quality of waterfowl hunting in our state and consequently the decline in the number of resident hunters.”

To increase opportunities and thereby begin reversing the loss of resident waterfowl hunters, the two organizations will be asking the 2017 legislature to:

  • Eliminate all three-day non-resident waterfowl licenses with the exception of 500 that will be restricted to private land in the Missouri River unit
  • Limit the number of 10-day nonresident licenses each year to eight percent of the average number of resident waterfowl hunters

In addition, the organizations will petition the Department of Game, Fish and Parks to put two initiatives into place:

  1. develop a plan to increase waterfowl hunting opportunities by improving access to water on public land in the state
  2. develop an overall plan to increase the number of resident waterfowl hunters by twenty-five percent  in the next 10 years.

Contact: Chris Hesla at 605-224-7524

Contact: George Vandel at 605-295-2880

Download as PDF