Press "Enter" to skip to content

GF&P “Confident” Nest Predator Bounty Program Helping Pheasants, Fails to Produce Any Research Saying So

Bart Pfankuch of South Dakota News Watch goes looking for science showing that Governor Kristi Noem’s vaunted Nest Predator Bounty Program is boosting our pheasant population. He doesn’t find any. Game Fish and Parks Secretary Kevin Robling admits GF&P doesn’t have any and isn’t really looking for any:

Robling acknowledges there is no data or concrete evidence to show that the bounty program has improved pheasant or duck numbers or enhanced successful nesting rates, but he remains convinced it is working.

“As far as quantifying pheasant abundance, we don’t have any research design set up for that,” Robling said. “But we are confident that this bounty program is enhancing nest success” [Bart Pfankuch, “South Dakota Predator Bounty Program: Successful Wildlife Management or Needless Killing of 134,000 Animals?South Dakota News Watch, 2021.08.26].

“But we are confident”—as in confidence game… con game….

Pfankuch goes looking for research articles and finds the science backs what most observers have pointed out since Noem launched this boondoggle in 2019: trapping/shooting/killing raccoons and skunks and other critters we don’t like doesn’t show conclusive evidence of helping the critters we do like. Pressed by Pfankuch, Secretary Robling did Google up a couple links that he thought would support his confidence. One was a 2011 SDSU master’s student thesis that I linked in my August 22 article as an example of research that does not support the state’s claims that its Nest Predator Bounty Program can positively impact pheasant populations. Pfankuch reads that master’s thesis and finds I read it more accurately than Secretary Robling did:

Another research article suggested by Robling, a 2011 master’s thesis paper written by a student at South Dakota State University, compared pheasant and duck brood success on “control” plots of land where predator removal did not occur to brood success on “treatment” plots where predators, primarily coyotes, were removed by trapping. The results of the study of so-called Block Predator Management in eastern South Dakota appeared to be inconclusive in regard to the effectiveness of wide-scale predator-removal efforts.

Statistical analysis of nest success “for both ducks and pheasants indicated that there was no difference … between control sites and treatment sites,” the paper concluded.

However, the student noted his belief that predator management “had positive effects in some blocks during some years.” But ultimately he found that “[i]n areas where adequate habitat is present on the landscape and birds are capable of high production, a program like BPM is not necessary and funds would be better spent elsewhere” [Pfankuch, 2021.08.26].

Not only is Game Fish and Parks not doing science on its Nest Predator Bounty Program, but its Secretary, a December 2020 Noem appointee, can’t even cite external science accurately.


  1. Guy 2021-08-31

    I’m grateful and happy the War in Afghanistan is FINALLY over. President Biden held firm on his decision and we are finally out of there.

  2. Jake 2021-08-31

    Is it at all surprising?!

  3. cibvet 2021-08-31

    It works because I say it works!!! Typical noem administration policy.

  4. Nick Nemec 2021-08-31

    Don’t forget a few years back Gov. Noem ordered the SD GF&P to abandon the decades long method used to determine pheasant numbers and compare those numbers from year to year. Annually local conservation officers would drive the same established routes at the same time of day to count pheasant broods they saw on the edge of the road. Had that method not been abandoned there would be a way to compare current pheasant numbers with past numbers and establish trend lines. But that would require science and this administration prefers to go with their feelings and their confidence game.

  5. mike from iowa 2021-08-31

    iowa has seen a surge in land prices this year driven by speculators. Good for big landowners, not so good for family farmers and wildlife. Grundy Co iowa recently saw an 80 acre parcel of flat ground with a single wind turbine set a new per acre record of 22.6k bucks.

    I was not aware of these upticks in farmland values this year. Pheasants can’t read and kismet knows magats only wish to see the wealthy get more wealth and to kill pheasants.

  6. kurtz 2021-08-31

    Over a hundred native species in South Dakota are at risk to the Republican Party including the endangered pallid sturgeon, paddlefish, black footed ferret, northern long-eared bat, the black-backed woodpecker that feeds on bark beetles and a bird that actually walks underwater – the American dipper, just to name a few. Threatened by the increased conversion of native prairie to cropland the most endangered plant in the chemical toilet that is South Dakota is the white-fringed orchid (Platanthera praeclara) found mainly in tallgrass prairies west of the Mississippi River.

    The reasoning is hardly mysterious: it’s all about the money prostitution, the Sturgis Rally, policing for profit, sex trafficking, hunting and subsidized grazing bring to the South Dakota Republican Party destroying lives, depleting watersheds and smothering habitat under single-party rule.

    Blend the slaughter of apex predators, the resulting rise of mesopredators, increasing numbers of domestic dogs and cats then stir in a melange of industrial chemicals with climate change and voila: red state collapse on parade!

  7. mike from iowa 2021-08-31

    Year 2020….Despite fewer acres being enrolled in CRP and lower total rental payments, the average rental rate per acre this year increased marginally to $82 per acre.

    For a guy who just dropped 1.8 mil for 80 acres of farmland isn’t likely to settle for an average return of 82 bucks an acre. I know we are talking primo farmland and not set aside quality acres, but, …..

    I’m guessing farmers can make more than $82 an acre on marginal land. Pheasants just have to learn to evolve and adapt in short order. Maybe they can market and sell plastic reusable pheasant decoys.

  8. Arlo Blundt 2021-08-31

    well…Killing predators like red fox and badgers is just blood lust…has nothing to do with pheasants or ducks…GFand P has sold its soul.

  9. Mark Anderson 2021-08-31

    Well at least they aren’t killing Coyotes. At one jackrabbit state game I went to in my wasted youth, three jackrabbits were thrown out but a jackrabbit fan threw out a coyote. Don’t know how he got it in there but that was something.

  10. Jake 2021-08-31

    The GF&P soul is simply a reflection of the governor’s mindset. Similar to combining the DENR and Ag Departments. A wannabe autocrat in charge of government.

  11. Guy 2021-08-31

    Arlo, really? So, what about all the people, including our Governor, who love to get out there and blast the poor pheasants away. She even tweeted about it like she was proud she blew a poor bird to bits?!? If that is not “blood lust.” than what is?

  12. John 2021-08-31

    Studies over generations show that “predator control programs” have no effect on pheasant or duck populations. Anyone who pretends that predator control programs have a statistically significant effect on pheasant and / or duck populations is lying.

  13. Guy 2021-08-31

    The Game, Fish & Parks is our last check on dangerous predators that do need to be “controlled”. I grew up in neighboring Montana and I once lived in Great Falls, where the Grizzlies have rebounded so successfully that they have been a danger to area ranchers and the safety & welfare of people. So, yes we need the GF&P to sometimes kill dangerous predator animals that pose a threat to human safety. Thank God for the Montana and South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks.

  14. Guy 2021-08-31

    I 100% back both the Montana and South Dakota GF&P. If we did not have the Game, Fish & Parks, we would have no check against dangerous predator animals that have been out of control in certain areas. If we had no GF&P, the Sierra Club would ensure no dangerous predator animals were killed and we would be in a far more precarious situation. From time to time, there has to be common sense and a check against the Sierra Club. The same Sierra Club who does not think we have enough mountain lions in the Black Hills.

  15. Guy 2021-08-31

    Grudz, WOW?!? Since 2012, does anyone trust this man over his hypocrisy and criminality? This man has ZERO CREDIBILITY with me after reading this article from the Rapid City Journal. What a sneaky and underhanded individual that does not live what he preaches. Thank you for sharing it.

  16. grudznick 2021-08-31

    Thank you, Mr. Guy for reading it. Worth noting is that the prominent libbies Mr. Brendan Johnson and Mr. Frank Carroll pushed to slap this fellow down. And another libbie, Mr. Woster, did the reporting. So you have 3 of the biggest libbies around smacking this Sierra Club fellow on the back of the head. Why run of the mill libbies support the Sierra club only shows their ignorance and lack of paying attention. That, for sure, carries over into their fur petting and desire to let the fuzzy creatures run free.

    So demonstrates Mr. Woster, formerly of the Rapid City Journal.

  17. kurtz 2021-08-31

    During one season a white christian trophy hunter illegally slew a three-month old, fourteen pound cougar kitten in the Black Hills. The idiot was cited for a class one misdemeanor improper tagging, which carries a penalty of fines to $1,000, one year in jail and loss of hunting privileges for a year. The incident is par for the course in Lawrence County where firearms and alcohol with meth chasers are as common as sibling marriages.

    How would the presence of moose, wolves and bears in South Dakota not automatically make them candidates for endangered species protection?

    Game, Fish and Plunder may have been interested in science at some point in its past but like Douglas fir, lodgepole pine and as revenues collapse the eventual extirpation of mountain lions from the Black Hills looks like a given.

  18. Guy 2021-08-31

    Grudz, thank you for some insight into Brendan’s involvement in this. However, I am an Independent voter and I still believe we need a MORE BALANCED government that has elected officials from both parties. Now, Marty Jackley had his two terms as Attorney General and all he is going to do is ensure more support for his Republican Party…IF…he is reelected. Remember, I’m an Independent and I want to see a shake-up in Pierre with both political parties each controlling some statewide offices. That way, they can keep each other in check. We also need a FULL-TIME Governor who properly understands the role, which we have been without for almost 3 years.

Comments are closed.