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Targets Available for Last Governor’s Hunt in Pierre… No Thanks to Trapping

Speaking of wildlife, the last Governor’s Hunt in Pierre takes place this coming weekend. Hunters favored with an invitation from the Snow Queen were supposed to RSVP by October 10.

Governor's hunt 2019 logo
Not intended for children? I thought pheasant hunting was all about bringing families together and getting kids outdoors….

Invitees worried about the sharp decrease in the summer brood count may take heart: hunters found something to shoot at during last weekend’s non-resident opener:

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks reported the opening day yielded between a 1/2 to 1 bird per hunter on Saturday, depending on the location. In the central part of the state, 1/2 to 3/4 birds per hunter were reported, with success coming from food plots and on the edges of standing crop fields, and the most hunters were seen in Lyman County. In the southeast part of the state, GF&P reported high numbers of hunters in Aurora, Miner, Sanborn and southern Beadle counties. Again, 1/2 to 3/4 birds per hunter were reported in those areas, too [Sam Fosness, “Local Hunters See Fair Share of Pheasants During Season Opener,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2019.10.20].

One Mitchell-area hunter also shot some serious bull:

Considering the wet fields and CRP lands causing a lack of nesting areas available for pheasants, [Andrew] Winthers said the birds were more vulnerable to getting attacked by predators.

But the bounty program Gov. Kristi Noem enacted earlier this year in January — which paid trappers $10 for the tail of every mammal defined as a pheasant nest predator, including raccoons, striped skunks, possums, badgers, and red foxes — was intended to eliminate those nest predators. Winthers said the spike in trappers that the bounty program generated will be extremely vital for this year’s pheasant hunting season. The GF&P reported more than 54,000 tails turned in by the end of this year’s bounty program, which spanned from early January to mid-August.

“The number of guys that went out trapping this year was at an all-time high, and it will be so beneficial for the number of pheasants for this year and years to come,” said Winthers. “I know there were some people in the state who thought it wasn’t a wise way for the governor to spend money, but it will be a huge benefit [Fosness, 2019.10.20].

Winthers may be a hunting enthusiast, but he’s evidently not a science enthusiast. Pretty much every scientific voice that weighed in this year on Governor Noem’s Nest Predator Bounty program said trapping skunks and raccoons will have no significant impact on pheasant populations. Even Game Fish and Parks has admitted the goal of the trapping bounties is family fun, not increasing the pheasant population. There are much better ways to spend state dollars to promote pheasant populations than handing out free traps.

But don’t trouble the Governor’s guests with such scientific talk on Saturday. Noem isn’t one to surround herself with real scientists….


  1. mike from iowa 2019-10-21 07:49

    For next year’s pheasant protecting boondoggle Noem can declare war and place a bounty on Mother Nature…wait,what? They already have done that? Nevermind.

  2. jerry 2019-10-21 09:44

    Pesticides is what The Rapid City Journal has reported that is devasting the deer population. Predators get a bad rap, but it’s really the farmers who are at fault. Not just on the farm, but those backyard farmers as well. Pesticides should be banned completely. The pesticides kill the bird population as we have lost over 3 billion and counting, aren’t pheasants birds?

  3. Robert McTaggart 2019-10-21 10:51

    Yes, let’s save the birds and the insects by improving wind energy.

    “Wind turbines have also emerged as one of the greatest human threats to many species of large, threatened and high-conservation value birds, after habitat loss from agriculture. ”

    Insect debris from direct impacts can have a direct monetary impact on wind energy when it affects the aerodynamics of the blades. It should be of interest to reduce bug debris from occurring in the first place. Then there are more bugs for the pheasants to consume or to pollinate our crops.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-21 12:21

    Pheasants don’t fly high enough to to get into wind turbine blades, do they?

    Wind turbines also don’t reduce pheasant habitat. The quote provided from the article supports the notion that agriculture is a greater threat than wind power.

    Plus, to throw this tangent into this thread, you are required to run a full comparison of the hazards of wind power to the harms to habitat caused by climate-changing fossil fuel use.

    But from the nature of the distraction offered, I take it we all agree that the original thesis stands: Anyone claiming Noem’s Nest Predator Bounty Program had anything to do with pheasant numbers if full of baloney.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-21 12:23

    Besides, all those orange-clad tourists walking around with Kristi this weekend will kill more pheasants that South Dakota’s wind turbines will.

  6. jerry 2019-10-21 13:18

    Doc, the biggest killer of birds is not wind chargers, it’s wind ows. Yep, windows are the biggest threat to birds period outside of pesticides “Between 365 and 988 million birds die from crashing into windows in the United States each year, according to a new report” Washington Post

    Wind chargers “Wind turbines kill an estimated 140,000 to 328,000 birds each year in North America,”

    So let’s see now. I take 988 million window kill and I subtract 328,000 wind charger kill and with my handy dandy fingers and toes, I come up arithmetically with a difference of __________. I’m gonna ask you to fill in the blank as you’re the Doctor.

  7. Francis Schaffer 2019-10-21 13:19

    It doesn’t matter how high birds can fly as they cannot avoid getting cancer from the noise of the wind turbine. Oh never mind, my tinfoil hat was picking up a new frequency.

  8. Robert McTaggart 2019-10-21 13:44

    I didn’t say it was the primary source of bird losses. I was inspired by your concern for bird health :^).

    Birds by the way are literally the canaries in the coal mine when it comes to climate change.

  9. Robert McTaggart 2019-10-21 14:07

    Most of those other bird kills are the smaller birds with greater populations. The article discusses the greater effect of wind turbines on larger birds that exist in smaller numbers. So we are talking a much bigger impact on eagles and hawks, not on robins and sparrows that are found in greater numbers in our neighborhoods and more likely to be killed by cats or window strikes.

    In other words, the loss of one eagle has much more of an effect on eagle populations than the loss of one robin does on robin populations.

    Hmmm….the number of wind turbines is going up, and pheasant populations are going down. I cannot say that there is a cause and effect however. Loss of habitat and climate change could be playing more significant roles, but you need a study to examine that.

  10. jerry 2019-10-21 14:18

    Eagles prey on pheasants, and hunters pray they will blast one. Smart coyotes and fox will build a den close to the wind chargers for snack time, but intelligent ones, will build close to glass filled buildings.

  11. leslie 2019-10-21 20:34

    Will Mari Butina be there with bffs Paul Erickson and Dusty Johnson in Mike Rounds big twin engine with John (July 4th at the Kremlin) Thune? Maybe shoot some birds on the Rez side of the Cheyenne River on the Angostura irrigated cornfields. Kristi could wear her tactical ball cap with camo American flag. Oh the photo ops. She might have to wade her photo op pony over to avoid highway barricades, sound howitzers, tanks and helicopters.

  12. Debbo 2019-10-21 21:07

    Pheasant numbers have so badly tanked. Less than one per person is considered a good season? Pitiful.

  13. mike from iowa 2019-10-22 06:39

    Red Sparrow has at least one felony conviction so I am not sure she is allowed to have a weapon or even be in possession of one.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-23 20:09

    Actually, Mike, Maria may still be able to buy and possess a shotgun in South Dakota. Folks who’ve committed crimes of violence or felony drug crimes can’t possess or control a firearm, but those bans last for only 5 to 15 years after commission of the offense. We also take away the right to possess/control a firearm from domestic abusers, but only for a year. See SDCL 22-14-15 through 15.2.

    Maria didn’t do drugs. She didn’t commit a crime of violence. She didn’t beat Paul E or any other roommates. She may be able to carry a gun here.

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