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GFP commission increases nonresident waterfowl opportunity

Brent Duerre

Game, Fish and Park commissioners were met with opposition from multiple organizations and the public over plans for waterfowl hunting season.

Both deer and waterfowl hunting season finalizations were on the agenda of the latest South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks commission meeting Thursday.

Deer hunting season passed with no public comment but the increase in nonresident waterfowl licenses was a point of contention.

George Vandel is a board member for South Dakota Waterfowl Association. He said the push for an increase of 300 out-of-state licenses for waterfowl excluded in-state organization opinions.

"When it comes to this process it is important to note that we weren’t involved. The wildlife federation nor the waterfowl association was involved in the process. We find that disappointing," said Vandel. "We think that this is important enough and with the membership that we have with over 3,000 in the wildlife federation, the waterfowl association has over 300, it would have been nice, had we known, we certainly would have been involved.”

There’s concern the increase in nonresident waterfowl licenses will encourage commercializing hunting in the state, limiting the amount of public land for residents to hunt.

Mitch Richter is a contractor with South Dakota wildlife federation. He agreed that the waterfowl proposal should have had local input.

“We just don’t think that there were enough people involved in this. We’re happy to work with guides and outfitters as well, they should be a part of the proposal, but we are interested in working with it. We'd like you to vote it down today and direct the department to work with a stakeholder group,” said Richter.

Commissioners pointed to the increase in revenue that 300 nonresident licenses would bring to the state.

Stephanie Rissler is the chair of South Dakota’s Game Fish and Parks commission.

“There were comments about, you know, this could create a slippery slope. Well it could, but right now we are only voting on 300 licenses," said Rissler.   

The GFP commission voted unanimously to approve 300 additional nonresident licenses.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.