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GF&P Not Engaging Local Hunters and Conservationists in Making Policy

For all her celebration of hunting in South Dakota, Governor Kristi Noem isn’t listening to South Dakota hunters. Her Game Fish and Parks Commission evidently shut resident hunters out of the decision-making process that led the commission to offer more nonresident waterfowl licenses:

George Vandel is a board member for South Dakota Waterfowl Association. He said the push for an increase of 300 out-of-state licenses for waterfowl excluded in-state organization opinions.

“When it comes to this process it is important to note that we weren’t involved. The wildlife federation nor the waterfowl association was involved in the process. We find that disappointing,” said Vandel. “We think that this is important enough and with the membership that we have with over 3,000 in the wildlife federation, the waterfowl association has over 300, it would have been nice, had we known, we certainly would have been involved.”

There’s concern the increase in nonresident waterfowl licenses will encourage commercializing hunting in the state, limiting the amount of public land for residents to hunt.

Mitch Richter is a contractor with South Dakota Wildlife Federation. He agreed that the waterfowl proposal should have had local input.

“We just don’t think that there were enough people involved in this. We’re happy to work with guides and outfitters as well, they should be a part of the proposal, but we are interested in working with it. We’d like you to vote it down today and direct the department to work with a stakeholder group,” said Richter.

…The GFP commission voted unanimously to approve 300 additional nonresident licenses [Evan Walton, “GFP Commission Increases Nonresident Waterfowl Opportunity,” SDPB, 2023.05.07].

The point of hunting is not simply to make money. Hunting is supposed to get South Dakotans outdoors, build their understanding of and respect for wildlife and the environment, and inspire them to participate in crafting conservation policies that will sustain our ducks and geese and pheasants, our wetlands and grasslands, and all of our other natural resources for future generations to enjoy as much as we do. Shutting out conservation groups who have taken that mission to heart most dearly and actively discourages South Dakotans from investing their time and energy in conservation projects and makes it more likely that our waterfowl and the privilege of shooting at them will just go to the highest, most rapacious bidders.


  1. Bonnie B Fairbank 2023-05-09 08:56

    The point of hunting for some is to feed themselves and loved ones; I support them, although I personally would rather eat wormy Brussels sprouts rolled in raw, chopped liver and fried in used motor oil rather than kill, dress, prepare, and eat any animal.

    The point of hunting for a few of the hunters I know is to clomp around in ludicrously expensive camo, drive the biggest 4×4 they can’t afford, buy a new rifle or six every year while their children go without dental care (“Jeezus, Becks, we’re talkin’ about baby teeth here! Quit being a c*nt!” ) and prove they’re just like their dinky-d*cked friends by triumphantly returning home with two mangled rabbits when they don’t “get their deer.”

    A jaded but true observation.

  2. Mark Anderson 2023-05-09 10:44

    Cory, you must trust Republicans more. We are a Republic, I like the sound of the word. It means people can live free, talk free, go or come,buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose. Some words give you a feeling. Republic is one of those words…..SORRY, you can look up the rest. Speechifying at its worst.
    Hunting is just for those out of state boys like me. Why would anyone complain?

  3. Donald Pay 2023-05-09 11:09

    Back in the 1970s the situation was 180 degrees different, and it was one of the peripheral issues that created a huge hurdle for the Oahe Irrigation Project. The GFP with the support of in-state hunters excluded out-of-state hunters from hunting waterfowl in the state. It was thorn in the side of a particular Congressman (can’t remember his name, though it was something like Saylor) who was from some other state who had a lot of clout over funding. He didn’t particularly like the Oahe Irrigation Project, but his big beef was he didn’t think it was right for South Dakota to exclude out-of-state hunting when they were asking for federal funds for a project that would destroy waterfowl habitat, thus limiting the birds out-of-state hunters could shoot in their own states. Anyway, this tiff went on for several years with South Dakota getting a trickle of money, but not enough to do much damage. At some point, I think it was Janklow, who figured out he’d have to sell out to this Congressmen to get money for the project. About that time, though, the Carter Administration and United Family Farmers were squeezing the life out of the project.

    At any rate, there must be some rich Republican donors from Texas or Florida who will be making money off this.

  4. e platypus onion 2023-05-09 14:49

    GF & P doesn’t have to hear complaints about poor water quality and lack of critical habitat if they exclude these groups.

  5. Arlo Blundt 2023-05-09 17:01

    George Vandel’s testimony is very much to the point. George was a veteran employee of the GFP, now retired, who did a lot of field work and certainly knows the impact of regulation on sportsmen in the blind. The Wildlife Federation is an experienced group of conservationists whose input should be solicited on issues like this. The Republicans and their appointees in the GFP hierarchy do not want to hear from conservationists. They prefer the bellyaching of their buddies in the “pay to hunt” industry.

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