Protect SD Raccoons

white and black animal on brown tree trunk
Photo by Alan Alquist

Protect SD Raccoons – Prairie Hills Audubon Society


   At it’s June 6th 2024 Meeting SD Game, Fish and Parks Commission will be voting on a rule change proposal to allow out-of-state hound hunters to hunt raccoons. Here is a link to the rule proposal: 

        This is proposed in part to enhance raccoon hound hunting competitions by allowing out-of-staters to compete. This was first proposed as a petition for rule making at the October Commission meeting. The Commission did not like how the petitioned rule change was written. The issue was more or less continued, so staff could rewrite the proposed rule change to their satisfaction. Staff created a new rule proposal that was submitted at the April Commission meeting for public review & consideration (vote) at their June 6-7th, 2024 Commission meeting

         We ask for folks to write to the Commission or testify orally at the commission meeting (they are hybrid and you can testify remotely by Zoom). For instructions on how to comment, see our event postings for June Commission meeting:– and written comment deadline –

        We believe hound hunting of raccoons to be animal cruelty, and we believe that hound hunting by groups of hunters in competitions creates cumulative cruelty.  Here is a link to look up the many that occur in USA, this web site shows two in SD in 2024 –  

        When a dog trees a raccoon, the hunter may shoot the raccoon high up in the tree at night and only wound the raccoon, who falls to the ground still alive, to be savaged by the dogs who may immediately jump on it and grab in jaws.  Dogs may attack raccoons that don’t make it to a tree or find it hiding in a hollow near ground, that is not safe. Here is a video to watch dogs savaging raccoons during hunt:   When some dogs are trained by some owners, the dogs  are given raccoons in flimsy cages that they break into and kill raccoon, which is called blooding.  in at least one barking competition a raccoon in a cage  is repeatedly lowered and raised above barking dogs for 2 days. 

       Conversely at some raccoon competitions the promoters claim the raccoons treed during competitions are not shot. Conversely an alternative to hound hunting is trapping. Raccoons have very sensitive hands and in western SD the trap check time is 3 and a partial day and in eastern SD the trap check time is 2 and a  partial days.  Raccoons can suffer in traps for days.

         We will be suggesting that SDGFP requires that out-of-state folks get their dogs vaccinated for rabies. SD law requires dogs brought in for 30 days to have rabies shots, but dogs brought in for shorter periods don’t need rabies shots.  In SD it is up to the counties or cities to have rabies shot requirements of our local dogs.  Raccoons are one of several wildlife species for which the  government attempts to distribute rabies vaccines in bait to reduce rabies in wildlife (this is more of an issue in eastern states).. 

Here are some articles on hound hunting


Here is an article about the debate over hound hunting in Vermont-

Here is an article on neglect of hound hunting dogs


 Please write in opposition to this proposed rule before midnight CT Sunday June 2nd. Please testify at 2 pm CT on June 6th.


Raccoons eat mussels and the zebra mussel is an invasive species from Eurasia, that SDGFP spends lots of effort to prevent its’ spreading to SD waters.  Testing in Europe show that captive raccoons and small clawed otters eat zebra mussels and that raccoons have a preference for them. Article:



PHAS November 2023 meeting on Raccoons

November 29th, 2023
There are two recordings of this meeting (for two speakers).  Discussion of event’s topics/speakers can be found at this link:
The first half of the meeting, was about raccoons.  The initial recording was accidentally cut off towards the end of Q&A on the raccoon presentation. Recording of meeting starts again in the next recording  where the end of first speaker’s  presentation precedes the second speakers presentation.  Nancy Hilding’s presentation is on SD Game, Fish and Park’s policy with respect to meso-carnivores – especially the Nest Predator Bounty Program and hound hunting of raccoons.
Links to part 1 and part 2
Part 1 Katherine’s presentation on raccoons:
Part 2 – The end of Katherine’s & all of Nancy’s presentation:


North Dakota also have 12 month long raccoon hunting season. Folks can comment  against that till late June 2024

Link to our events/deadline calendar alert


   Since 2019 SDGFP has funded and approved a Nest Predator Bounty Program (NPBP) at at least $500,000 per year . There are 5 target species: raccoons, stripped skunks, opossums, badgers and foxes, however the animal most killed is raccoons. Trapping is during spring and early summer, when animals are breeding, thus resulting in abandoned and orphaned young.. The statewide bounty program paid 10 dollars per tail the first year, 5 dollars per tail the next year and returned to 10 dollars per tail for the next four years (not enough people were willing to do it for $5 per tail.). In SD you are only required to check your traps in western SD every 3 and a partial day and in eastern SD every 2 and a partial day. Raccoons have very sensitive hands…imagine those hurting hands in a trap for 3 and a partial days.     Raccoons in SD are one of 5 target animals of the SD Nest Predator Bounty Program along with opossum, stripped skunk, red foxand badgers, but more than 6 times as many raccoons are killed each year compared to the other 4 predators – 42,300 killed in 2023 through that bounty program and 142,000 were killed between 2019-2022. The alleged reason for this killing is to benefit pheasants and other ground nesting birds. We and many others don’t believe the bounty program will help ground nesting birds as its’ impacts are too diffused. For more info on the Nest Predator Bounty Program (NPBP) visit

   The NPBP was approved in January 2023 for 4 more years and will not expire till 2027. It is believed that the NPBP is a pet project of Kristi Noem and also believed by some, that this program will not be renounced by her administration and the Commission (appointed by her) won’t reject the program, until Kristi Noem is no longer Governor. We welcome people testifying or writing against it at the SD GFP Commission meetings or in letters to Kristi Noem. However we believe we need to ask the Legislature to over turn the NPBP. If you live in SD please ask your legislators or legislative candidates to oppose this bounty program. Please go to our Nest Predator Bounty Program action page for more information and link to suggested legislation.


PHAS had petitioned for rule change in the past to reduce the three & a partial day and two & a partial day trap check time to 24 hours trap check time. Lots of states have such a limit. Our petitions were denied but it would be good for folks to keep asking the Commission to reduce the trap check time. It is good for the Commission to perpetually hear from people concerned about animal welfare. 

Trapping/Hunting Rules

SD allows hound hunting of raccoons for in-state persons and SDGFP is considering allowing out-of-state persons to hunt them also, in part so non-residents can participate in raccoon hound hunting competitions. Raccoons can be killed in SD at any time without a license, if they are doing damage to property or livestock/poultry. Also resident land occupiers, on their own property, and residents under 18 can kill them without a license during the raccoon hunting season (which is year-round for residents). They are considered to be covered under predator/varmint hunting rules (although they are not listed as a predator/varmint) and can be taken with a predator/varmint license, furbearer license and many other hunting licenses.

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