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GF&P Considers Longer Pheasant Season; Trappers Retreat from Nest Predator Bounty Program

Boy, with Game Fish & Parks talking about increasing the days, hours, and daily limits for pheasant hunting, you’d think we’re having a pheasant population boom. Of course, we have no such data: recent counts have shown fewer pheasants, so Game Fish & Parks has canceled its counts, thinking that an absence of data will trick out-of-state hunters into coming here and ignoring the evidence of their own eyes about South Dakota’s failure to take real action to boost bird numbers.

Governor Kristi Noem’s one splashy plan to help more pheasants survive the spring so they can meet a grisly end in fall, her much-touted but utterly unscientific Nest Predator Bounty Program, was never going to make a noticeable difference in pheasant populations. The second run of the program generated far less enthusiasm than last year’s, bringing in only a bit more than half as many egg-sucking-varmint tails as in its inaugural year:

Last year, paying $10 per tail, the bounty program used up the $500,000 allocated.

This year, with bounties reduced to $5 and funding likewise cut in half, about $131,000 was paid through the July 1 end.

…[State wildlife damage program admin Keith] Fisk said about 26,000 tails were submitted, with raccoons the most numerous. Counties in eastern South Dakota generated the most tails.

About 1,100 people participated, with the most ages 51 to 70, and about half were repeats from 2019.

Last year 13% were age 17 and younger. The goal this year was 20%. That came short at 16%.

Fisk said participants told him there were two reasons participation overall was down. One was COVID-19 and the related limits on turn-ins. The other was reducing the bounty to $5 [Bob Mercer, “S.D. Predator-Bounty Program Had Less Success,” KELO-TV, 2020.07.17].

The state may try to suppress data on the impacts of trapping initiative, but the tail bounty data show that trappers are retreating from Governor Noem’s misdirected anti-varmint efforts.


  1. Debbo 2020-07-21 20:37

    Kruel Kristi’s term has been a steady trail of misdirected efforts to of every kind.

  2. Fairburn 2020-07-21 23:37

    But if they “test” for pheasants (by counting them) that will make the numbers increase, won’t it?

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-07-22 06:42

    Fairburn—ding ding ding!

    Noem’s preference not to count pheasants is just another flavor of the Trumpist ostrich belief that if we don’t look at science, bad news will go away.

  4. mike from iowa 2020-07-22 07:06

    Remember how well farm policy worked when prices were down due to oversupply, farmers increased production to make up for lower prices, thus driving prices even lower.

    Do wingnuts ever learn from past mistakes? Are they even mentally capable of learning?

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