Governor Kristi Noem and Game Fish & Parks claim that 83% of South Dakotans approve of the Governor’s Nest Predator Bounty Program, the unscientific and ineffective 2019 program of paying trappers $10 for each tail of a raccoon, skunk, opossum, fox, or badger they bring in to their local GF&P office.
That 83% figure doesn’t square with the approval rate so far in the public comment GF&P has taken in the run-up to the Game Fish and Parks Commission meeting tomorrow on the state’s plan to offer bounties for nest predators again this year (though only at $5 a tail). Reviewing just the first page of public comments, I find maybe 20 statements of support for renewing the Nest Predator Bounty Program versus 300 statements against. The second page appears to have seven more supporters and 117 opponents. Overall, 27 supporters out of 444 responses is 6% approval. Among the opponent statements:
Linda Hasselstrom, Hermosa: I am a rancher and landowner in Custer County. I ferociously oppose this wasteful program and will not allow any trapping under this program to occur on my land. Nor, while this program is in effect, will ANY hunters be allowed on my land. This program is completely the brainwave of Gov. Noem and is poorly considered.
Candy Manthey, Rapid City: As a farmer/rancher, hunter, and avid outdoors person I strongly oppose this entire program. It mocks the very purpose of your office, IMHO. As caretakers of our natural resources it is a crying shame to think that this state program, which traps animals during nesting season when young animals are in the most vulnerable period, is being sponsored by your office. This is a cruel time to trap. The furs are worthless and it is simply a “killing field”. You don’t hunt deer or big game or birds during this time because it is cruel and inhumane to do so. So should it be considered for small mammals, regardless of their impact on pheasants, etc. Killing something in a limited area that is problematic is one thing. I shoot coon or badgers or skunks as needed when in my farmyard doing damage. But to trap like this is against anything I was taught as a kid by my parents and grandparents…real nature conservationists in their every day farming lifestyle. I hope someone will stand up to the East River, money hungry minds that support this awful program and say, “Enough!” Please look at the statistics and be honest about what you are promoting here and why. Thank you [public comments, submitted to Game Fish & Parks Commission, retrieved 2020.03.03].
The Game Fish & Parks Commission will discuss these public comments and the fate of the Nest Predator Bounty Program tomorrow, March 5, and Friday, March 6, at the Ramkota in Pierre. The agenda says the meeting starts Thursday at 10 a.m. Central, 9 a.m. Mountain; the public hearing on the trapping bounty program and other proposed rule changes begins at 2 p.m. Central/1 p.m. Mountain. During the public portion, GF&P will open the floor to live public comment at the Pierre meeting site and via videoconference from the GF&P Regional Offices in Sioux Falls, Watertown, and Pierre. They’ll provide a live stream via SDPB.