SD NEST PREDATOR BOUNTY PROGRAM
SD Game, Fish and Parks (SDGFP) created a bounty program for nest predators in 2019 and has offered 3 years (2019, 2021 & 2022) of the program – funded at a $500,000 expenditure for bounties at $10 per tail and 1 year (2020) funded with $250,000 in bounties at $5 per tail. The first year SDGFP gave away free traps. Target animals are – raccoons, opossums, striped skunk, red fox, badger. The first year (2019) the live trap give-away program cost $958,171, the payment for tails cost $547,400, salaries/benefits cost $190,915 & miscellaneous expenses cost $35,778 – Thus 2019’s total cost was $1,732,264.
The expenditures are normally approved by the GFP Commission in the first few months of the year and while times of the bounty season have varied – the 2022 bounty ran from March 1 till July 1st. (The first month was for youth). The 2022 Season ended on July 1st and they took 49,778 tails, with raccoons being caught the most, followed by striped skunk and opossums as most caught.
Opossums = 16,700
We oppose this – The NPBP was originally sold as a way to increase pheasant numbers and then also increase other ground nesting birds. As that was not very credible, they added inspiring youth to take up trapping as a program goal. It is ineffective at protecting eggs/nestlings and is cruel. Why do we want to spend at least 3 million dollars over 4 years inspiring children to trap? It is a waste of SDGFP money, that could be better spent on other projects.
One of Kristi Noem’s justifications for Merging DENR into Agriculture Department (creating DANR) was to save about $500,000 a year. She was wasting that annually inspiring kids to trap with a useless & harmful bounty program .
This page is being written and evolving. We plan to update, rewrite & move the old alert on the SD Nest Predator Bounty Program (NPBP) that exists on our Blog page. For now our old alert can be found at https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/4368376858740594690/6395956365739341594 but you have to scroll past the otter section to reach the NPBP section.
This will be part of the meeting discussion at a Sierra Club meeting in Rapid City on August 18th. For details, check our events & alerts deadlines calendar
Tell the SDGFP Commission that you object to the NPBP. Tell the Governor you object (she is a very very strong promoter of it & appoints the Commissioners and hires/fires staff). Talk to your SD legislators and ask them to change the law and to stop the GFP from funding this wasteful and harmful project. Talk to election candidates about this issue and educate them – ask their position. Ask federal public land managers to make their lands off limits. Educate & organize others about the issue.
The next SDGFP Commission Meeting is September 1st & 2nd in Sioux Falls. There will be face-to-face & zoom attendance options. Check our events & alerts deadlines calendar or visit https://gfp.sd.gov/commission/information/ close to the date.
You can write to the Commission at any point and/or attend Commission meetings face-to-face or virtual and testify
for 3 minutes.
Because of SDCL 40-36-9, SDGFP can give away free traps, set bounties and allocate money as an administrative action — legislative approval, formal rule making and a public hearing are not required. Ask your legislator to change this law (SDCL 40-36-9) and remove or limit the SDGFP Department’s authority to set bounty programs and decide to spend 1.7 million in just one year on such a wasteful & harmful program.
SDCL 40-36-9. Programs and rules for control of injurious animals–Payment of expenses. The Department of Game, Fish and Parks may direct or employ personnel and conduct programs and the Game, Fish and Parks Commission may adopt pursuant to chapter 1-26 necessary rules to control foxes, coyotes, feral dogs, prairie dogs, and other wild animals. The expense thereof shall be paid out of the Department of Game, Fish and Parks fund or the state animal damage control fund.
Source: SDC 1939, § 25.1004; SL 1974, ch 274, § 2; SL 1978, ch 288, § 5; SL 1983, ch 292, § 10; SL 1984, ch 273, § 36.
This killing of predators is not scientifically justified. —-
– Wildlife biologists agree that nest predator control is ineffective unless it is extremely intense and carried out annually.
– Effective nest predator control may require hundreds of dollars & man-hours per year & per section of land. The Governor’s budget might be enough to cover one township, or possibly even a county, but certainly not the state.
– Even intense predator control has limitations. Those animals that escape capture or death often reproduce at a higher rate. This means more effort must be expended and more money must be appropriated each year.
– Nature does not exist in a vacuum. When one animal is removed, others move in, including other species that may be more effective predators.
– Nest predators also feed on rodents. Opossums also eat ticks. If these nest predators are successfully controlled, an explosion in rodents can be expected, with a huge and potentially devastating impact on farmers and ranchers. Rodents eat grain in the field, & infest grain bins, outbuildings and farmhouses. In SD rodents carry Hantavirus or fleas/ticks that can have bubonic plague, or Lyme disease. These costs must also be considered.
– Some nest predators are protected by state and federal laws. This would include ALL raptors. (Hawks, owls and eagles are examples.)
– The nest predator bounty may encourage illegal activity, from trespassing and unlawful night hunting to submitting tails collected out-of-state. NO funds have been allocated for the extra law enforcement.
-The nest predator program is fiscally irresponsible. The money is desperately needed on habitat programs that actually do provide a return on the investment.
– Habitat improvements can be cost shared at a rate of 50% to over 75% through a variety of programs. GF&P receives 75% cost share on habitat purchases and improvements through Pittman Robertson funds.
– Predation is much lower when sufficient habitat for nesting birds is provided.
– Successful nesting will not occur where there is not sufficient habitat, regardless if most predators are removed or not.
– This is a statewide program, but areas with pheasant and duck populations are much more limited West River. Why pay bounties for West River predator tails?
– Much of SDGFP budget derives from sale of licenses and most hunters do not want GFP’s limited budget spent on this program.
– Pheasants are an exotic species that competes with a native species – the greater prairie chicken, whose range and population are declining — losing half its’ population every decade.
– Accidental take of threatened and endangered species may occur. The swift fox is state listed. The black-footed ferret is listed federally. There is a petition before the USFWS to list the plains spotted skunk and the prairie grey fox under the Endangered Species Act.
– This program will result in animal cruelty. Some trappers will be trapping with leg-hold traps or snares, or body crushing traps. Some will use live traps. People should realize that in SD the law allows for animals to be left in traps West River for three and a partial day and East River for two and a partial day. Trapping can be cruel. In high heat or bitter cold, an animal in a box can die in half a day. Animals in boxes or leg-hold traps can freak out and damage their bodies and/or teeth & thus not survive even if released. Dead animals or animals in boxes or traps can’t feed their dependent young. Even via a “live trap” non-target species adults and their dependent young will die, in addition to target species.
– Part of the rational/spin for the program is to introduce children to nature & trapping. Why not introduce children to nature via non-lethal interactions with wildlife such as wildlife watching and spend money on nature guidebooks, binoculars, cameras & not via bounties & traps?