The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks is reopening public land to trapping, as part of the state’s Nest Predator Bounty Program.
But one western South Dakota conservation group opposes the program and hopes to reform the state’s trapping rules.
The goal of the Nest Predator Trapping Program is to trap and kill 50,000 predators for during this year’s pheasant nesting season, while also promoting trapping as a hobby. It’s a part of Governor Kristi Noem’s 2nd century habitat initiative.
Game, Fish and Parks is paying trappers ten bucks a tail and so far trappers have submitted almost 30 thousand.
Keith Fisk is the Wildlife Damage Program Administrator. He says it’s a program that’s good for getting South Dakotans to engage with the outdoors.
“There’s a lot of youth that are involved that are out of school during the summer,” Fisk says. “Time is super valuable—if you have kids they’re involved from every activity from ice skating to soccer during the school year. This is the time of the year when kids are—potentially have less activities going on to maybe expose them to the outdoors. That’s something that’s not talked about a lot, but it’s an important component.”
Game Fish and Parks has a $500,000 cap on payouts for tails.
However, both Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited—as well as a 2016 report from the state GF&P—suggest habitat is more favorable for pheasant population success than predator control.
Nancy Hilding is the president of the Prairie Hills Audubon Society. She says the program will have unintended consequences.
“Trying to manage predators on a large scale like this bounty program all across the state is not going to work," Hilding says. "It’s very expensive and has to be very focused if its going to work. This is not going to work, the hunting community knows it.”
The Prairie Hills Audubon Society is meeting in Spearfish on Friday and Rapid City on Monday to discuss trapping reform.