At approximately 10 a.m. Saturday, a 32-year-old South Dakota woman was shot in the foot by her gun as she was driving north of Presho, according to officials with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks (GF&P).
As the woman was driving her vehicle scouting for deer, she drove over a bump in the road. The gun discharged and she was struck in the foot. Her husband was a passenger in the vehicle and was not injured [“South Dakota Woman Injured in Presho Hunting Accident,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2017.11.15].
No charges have been filed yet against the gun.
South Dakota’s hunting regulations forbid using a motor vehicle “to chase, harass, intercept, pursue or disturb big game.” I’m curious how scouting might fit into that list, and whether it’s still scouting when you are pursuing deer in a motor vehicle with a loaded rifle at your side.
Our hunting regs require that anyone carrying a gun on a snowmobile, motorcycle, or all-terrain vehicle unload and stow the weapon in a carrying case. Instead of attending the Lynne DiSanto School of Car-Gun Safety, in which Rule #1 is, Don’t use the safety!, our hunter friend should have applied the logic of our hunting regs for other motorized transportation to her own bouncing motor vehicle.
Thune’s Native American Day column shows no personal connection to the holiday or the culture it celebrates. His pheasant hunting column is chock full of personal observations:
For me, hunting has always been more about the experience than the number of birds I bring home. Sure, limiting out on ringnecks is great, but it’s the memories I’m able to create along the way that matter the most. As long as I’m walking the fields with friends and family, an empty hunting vest never bothers me. I’m blessed that I’m still able to enjoy hunts with my siblings and my dad who is 97 years young. My sons-in-law have also taken up pheasant hunting, which is exciting for me to be able to pass this tradition on to the next generation [Senator John Thune, weekend column, 2017.10.12].
Thune’s Native American Day column reads like a combination grade-school Thanksgiving lesson and Chamber of Commerce flyer talking up Native American groceries like Tanka Bars and Lakota Popcorn (“These are just a few examples of how tribal traditions are living on today”). He can’t even think of policies he might advocate in his policymaking position to promote Native interests.
But if we’re promoting pheasants and hunting, Thune is ready to talk policy:
For a lot of hunters, when they hear CRP mentioned, they think of pheasants. The popular and well-respected conservation program provides incentives for landowners to set aside portions of their property that can serve as nesting and brood-rearing areas for pheasants. This year’s low pheasant population and low commodity prices are great reasons to increase the number of available CRP acres. This is why I’ve introduced legislation that would boost the CRP acreage cap to 30 million acres in the next Farm Bill, which represents a 25 percent increase. I’ve introduced additional bills in Congress that would authorize a shorter-term (three-five years) conserving use program that would complement CRP, and expand the sodsaver initiative nationwide, which is something I first authored in the 2008 and 2014 farm bills [Thune, 2017.10.12].
Thune’s consecutive “holiday” columns show the Senator is more tuned in to the interests of his gun-toting companions than of Native South Dakotans.
New U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Thursday issued an order overturning an Obama administration ban on the controversial use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle used on federal lands and waters, in a nod to hunters and fishermen on his first day on the job.
…President Barack Obama’s Fish and Wildlife Service had issued the lead ban on Jan. 19, one day before the inauguration of President Donald Trump, to protect birds and fish from lead poisoning. The move was met with sharp criticism from the National Rifle Association (NRA), which called it Obama’s “final assault on gun owners’ and sportsmen’s rights” [Valerie Volcovici, “New Interior Head Lifts Lead Ammunition Ban in Nod to Hunters,” Reuters via KELO Radio, 2017.03.02].
Lead is a metal with no known biologically beneficial role, and its use in gasoline, paint, pesticides and solder in food cans has nearly been eliminated. Although lead shot was banned for waterfowl hunting in 1991, its use in ammunition for upland hunting, shooting sports and in fishing tackle remains widespread.
The most significant hazard to wildlife is through direct ingestion of spent lead shot and bullets, lost fishing sinkers, lead tackle and related fragments, or through consumption of wounded or dead prey containing lead shot, bullets or fragments.
Dr. Barnett Rattner, USGS contaminant expert comments, “The magnitude of poisoning in some species such as waterfowl, eagles, California condors, swans and loons, is daunting. For this reason, on July 1, 2008, the state of California put restrictions on the use of lead ammunition in parts of the range of the endangered California condor because the element poses such a threat to this endangered species” [USGS National Wildlife Health Center, “Concerns Rise over Known and Potential Impacts of Lead on Wildlife,” updated 2016.05.19, retrieved 2017.03.02].
USGS is under Secretary Zinke now. We’ll see if their online information on wildlife lead poisoning meets the Trump scrubber.
Rookie Representative Drew Dennert (R-3/Aberdeen) brought House Joint Resolution 1001, a proposal to have us vote on adding the following language to our state constitution:
Hunting, fishing, and trapping wildlife is a valued part of our heritage that shall forever be preserved for the people; water, wildlife, and other natural resources held in the public trust shall be managed by law and regulation for the public good but do not create a right to trespass on private property except as allowed by law, regulation, easement, or contract [HJR 1001, Section 2, introduced 2017.01.20].
Useless macho bang-bang legislation usually gets a warm reception in Pierre. But after the National Association for Gun Rights, South Dakota Bowhunters, South Dakota Wildlife, and the South Dakota Izaak Walton League spoke in favor of HJR 1001, Big Ag raised its voice via the Farm Bureau, the Stock Growers, and the Corn Growers to oppose the hunt-fish-trap amendment on grounds of superfluity and unintended consequences to property rights.
Rep. David Lust (R-34/Rapid City) “quizzed” Rep. Dennert and asked, based on his Legislatively engaged family’s commitment to hunting and agriculture, which is more important to the Dennert family, the ability to work the land or the ability to hunt and fish. Rep. Dennert equivocated, saying both are equally important fundamental rights and that to this day some people still rely on hunting and fishing as their main source of food. Rep. Lust followed up, noting that “your grandfather is probably listening,” and insisted that Rep. Dennert choose. Thus boxed, Rep. Dennert acceded to the primacy of property rights.
In his later remarks, Rep. Lust acknowledged the “pleasure of putting a new legislator on the spot,” then explained his opposition to the NRA’s language:
There’s nothing in our constitution right now that guarantees someone the right to farm. There’s nothing in our constitution that guarantees someone the right to be a lawyer, nor to be a fireman, policeman. All of those we would all argue are foundational to—maybe not the lawyer part—is foundational to our society, right? If we don’t have something in our constitution on farming, on some people’s right to farm—and I think Representative Dennert answered the question properly and his grandfather would be proud—we don’t need to put things like this in our constitution [Rep. David Lust, remarks on HJR 1001, House State Affairs, 2017.01.25, timestamp 24:58].
Rep. Isaac Latterell (R-6/Tea?), a great fan of trivial constitutional grandstanding, tried to save his young Aberdeen friend’s constitutional diddling by amending HJR 1001 down to just its first 20 words. Rep. G. Mark Mickelson (R-13/Sioux Falls) stepped with a substitute motion to kill HJR 1001, and House State Affairs followed the Speaker. HJR 1001 failed 9–4, losing four sponsors (Bartling, Beal, Lust, and Qualm). Eight Republicans and one Democrat voted for a cleaner constitution and Bs on their NRA report card; three Republicans and one Democrat voted in favor of NRA-stroking constitutional clutter.
Roy Jeffs returned to the Hills last week to participate in discussions accompanying Rapid City screenings of Prophet’s Prey, a documentary about the polygamy and child rape perpetrated by his father and the FLDS.
If that creepy criminality cloaked in godliness isn’t enough to get the state of South Dakota to monitor, search, and shut down the FLDS Pringle compound, maybe poaching is:
Guards constantly walked the perimeter of the compound. The guard tower was outfitted with surveillance cameras that could peer far up the gravel road leading to the compound, and alarms were sounded whenever non-FLDS “gentiles” or excommunicated FLDS “apostates” approached. At such times, Roy said, the compound dwellers were ordered to retreat into their homes and buildings.
Yet some of the men at the compound routinely drove to cities in the Black Hills to obtain supplies, while young men like Roy, and the women and girls, were mostly cloistered. The compound residents ate food grown in large gardens, and Roy said the men also poached deer and wild turkeys [Seth Tupper, “Son of FLDS ‘Prophet’ Peels Back Curtain on Secretive Black Hills Compound,” Rapid City Journal, 2016.05.08].
Game Fish & Parks, maybe it’s time to send the game warden out to the FLDS compound… with some back-up.
“Russ will be a great addition to the Game, Fish and Parks Commission. He is an avid outdoorsman who is committed to conservation,” said Gov. Daugaard. “I appreciate Russ’ willingness to serve in this important role.”
…“As a lifelong resident, with generations of hunting and fishing traditions on both sides of my family, I want to do my part to make sure that the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts are able to enjoy the outdoors as I have,” said Olson. “It is vital that we continue to build better relationships with landowners as they hold the key to access and stewardship of one of South Dakota’s most precious resources” [State of South Dakota, press release, 2015.12.29].
While I appreciate the value of hunting and fishing as human activities and economic boosters, I also recognize that there’s a lot more to enjoying the outdoors than catching and eating its furry, feathery, and scaly components. I look forward to the day when the state touts a GF&P commissioner’s avid outdoorsmanship by pointing to his or her hiking, biking, swimming, and snowshoeing.
Olson takes one of the four non-farm seats on the eight-member GF&P commission. SDCL 41-2-2 requires that four members of the commission “be farmers actually residing on a farm, engaged in agriculture, deriving at least two-thirds of their gross annual incomes from crop or livestock production or both, and interested in wildlife conservation.”
Slob hunters a-plenty: in a 24-hour checkpoint on I-90 near White Lake Sunday and Monday, Game Fish & Parks and assisting agencies caught hunters breaking South Dakota’s hunting rules at a rate of one violation for every 8.5 hunters:
According to preliminary stats from the stop, 3,342 vehicles entered the road check and about 80 percent of those went through with no game or fish. Twenty percent, or 679 vehicles, went through with game or fish, and 1,253 hunters or anglers were checked.
Officers tallied 147 violations, many of which were unlawful transportation of big and small game, illegal possession of big and small game, no license, over the limit and incorrectly transporting wildlife [Luke Hagen, “24-Hour Game Stop Nabs 147 Violations,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2015.11.16].
Sure to turn conscientious hunters’ stomachs: occupants of one vehicle saw the checkpoint coming and threw pheasants out their window to avoid being cited.
I wouldn’t say there’s a policy conclusion here, just a community note: hunters, when you see all those signs saying, “Welcome, Hunters!” we don’t mean you’re welcome to act like slobs. Enjoy your hunt, enjoy the big sky and wide open prairie, but follow the rules and respect the natural bounty we share for your sport.
The Black Hills mountain lion season closed with better numbers than last year… if you’re a cat. The Black Hills Pioneer reports that hunters bagged 43 mountain lions (22 female, 21 male) in the Black Hills during the three-month season that closed March 31. That’s down ten from last year and well shy of the 75-lion/50-female quota. Game Fish & Parks offers a full list of mountain lions killed here.