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Legislation Allowing Transfer Of Big Game Licenses

USDA photo by Scott Bauer

The State House Committee for Agriculture and Natural Resources has passed a bill that changes the way land owners can use hunting permits. The bill allows land owners to transfer those permits in certain circumstances.

House Bill 1094 passed by a vote of seven to six after being highly debated on both sides. The bill says people who own more than 640 acres can transfer big game hunting permits to any legal hunter in the state with or without payment. The permit could only be used on the land owned or leased by the owner.

The bill’s opponents say this would put a bigger strain on the license draw that already has thousands of people on the waiting list. Opponents also say this could create a system where permits go the highest bidder.

Supporters argued the system wouldn’t lead to abuse, but rather allow tags to be filled and provide some income for land owners. Representative Larry Rhoden says this could help pay for damage done by deer.

“In my part of the world things are tough. We put up about a fourth of a hay crop, put that into the hay corrals and started out with a long winter with very low cattle prices so we’re behind the eight ball to start with. And now when I drive home from Pierre I see, hay corrals that are painted with deer, and I talk to neighbors who can’t even get to the hay corrals and they’re seeing literally hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in damage in feed. And I have to take a couple deep breaths when I hear people come up and say ‘the people own the deer’. Because I always want to say, then the people need to pay the cost of running those deer,” says Rhoden.

Rhoden says Game Fish and Parks doesn’t manage the deer population, rather the income that the hunting generates. He says the land owners are the ones that manage the deer. The bill goes on to the House floor.