SD Nest Predator Bounty Program

Oppose The SD Nest Predator Bounty Program (NPBP) 
Prairie Hills Audubon Society has  a  draft bill to kill the Nest Predator Bounty Program  (NPBP) and welcomes people to help contact SD legislators before next January 2025 to get them to oppose the Nest Predator Bounty Program and be willing to be a co-sponsor this or other bill in opposition to the 
NPBP. Here is a link to the draft bill – please give us feedback on it:
 This also needs to be made into an election issue. Do SD politicians want SDGFP to waste a half  million/year on this ineffectual program that  supports unjustified animal suffering? Ask the candidates.
Contact Nancy for more information on potential bills. 605-787-6466,
We urge folks to constantly write the SDGFP Commission in opposition to the NPBP.  The Commission normally meets the first Thursday/Friday of the month, unless holidays interfere.  You can testify in the afternoon at hybrid hearings held by Zoom & in person. We post notices about Commission meetings on our events calendar.  These tell you how to comment –  If you scroll down we provide talking points.
Folks can also write Kristi Noem in opposition. It is believed by many that she is a main driver/supporter behind this program.
Letters to editor/social media
Write letters to editor in opposition to this program or get friends to join in opposition or create information on social media.
Details on 2023 Nest Predator Bounty Program results:
 Late June 2023 was the end of the Nest Predator Bounty Tail Collection for 2023 season.
SD GFP statistics on the small predators killed under the Nest Predator Bounty Program in 2023 are at the below link: 50,797 tails were submitted and they used up all the bounty money by the end of June. 
 Total animals killed in 2023
Raccoons = 42,300
Opossums = 4,000
Striped Skunks =3,800

Badger = 387

Red Fox = 276


Here is a link  – to a November 2023 Newswatch article on this issue titled South Dakota predator bounty program to continue despite opposition



In the fur pelt market as per ” Trapping Today”  in 2023/2024

1.  the price for most raccoon pelts won’t be as much as $5, unless large pelt,  in which case it could bring 5-10 dollars,

2. Red fox pelts are a niche market product and usually average about  $10-15

3. Skunks are a traditional novelty market, and should  get $10-15.. 

4. Badger are being harvested in very limited quantities. Badger prices have been strong at around $20 averages, and are expected to stay that way.

5. There was no price offered for opossum pelts.

We assume theses prices are for winter pelts, which are thicker 


JAN 13th, 2023 UPDATE

SD Game, Fish and Parks Commission on Friday, January  13th 2023 approved 4  more years of the Nest Predator Bounty Program at $500,000 per year and  $10 per tail. The resolution (23-01) passed unanimously.  Here is a link to the resolution:   On Thursday 3 folks testified against the Program – Nancy  Hilding for PHAS and Julie Anderson and Jamie Al-Haj. PHAS had a Zoom evening meeting to discuss this and other issues on April 30th, 2023 .

When SD Game, Fish and Parks Commission on January  12th or 13th 2023,  it considered the resolution to refund the Nest Predator Bounty Program for 4 years.  It was expected that the resolution , would look like the one they passed 2 years ago – funding two years of the program  This approved $500,000 for each year and bounties of $10 per tail. However they surprised us and approved the program for 4 years. 

You could have testified against the Program for 3 minutes (or less) during the “Open Forum” (You still can).  For instructions on how to testify for the next Commission meeting see our events page).



PHAS had a meeting on raccoons & SDGFP management of meso-carnivores 11/29/23 . It discussed the NPBP.  It’s recording and other past

 PHAS meeting’s recordings are available on our web page on our meeting recordings.

 November  30th 2023 – A recent article on the Nest Predator Bounty Program occurred in SD News Watch and then the Rapid City Journal and Argus Leader

The Game, Fish and Parks Commission will  meet December 7th-8th in Fort Pierre & Zoom,  You can testify against the Nest Predator Bounty Program

(and anything else) during the open forum at 2 pm CT. 


 LONGER TERM HISTORY4 Previous years

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. 

SD GFP 2022 Tail tracker (you can see how many tails of which species were taken and in which counties)
Total animals killed 2019-2022
Raccoons= 142,000
Striped Skunks =22,400
Opossums = 16,700
Red Fox = 1,578
Badgers = 1,554

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 .

Here is a link to recent (fall 2023) article by SD News Watch on this issue: 


This page is being written and is 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  but you have to scroll past the otter section to reach the NPBP section.



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).  On our events page we post the dates of upcoming Commission meetings and how to contact the Commissioners.  You can get 3 minutes to testify at any Commission meeting. You can write to them. We need people to show up year round and object to the Nest Predator Bounty Program.

 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.  We hope to create a petition on this issue sometime in spring of 2023.  We may create a draft bill to remove funding by legislative act. 

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. 


Reasons to oppose the nest predator bounty program.

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.
–  Good habitat also provides high-protein food sources, clean water and protection from the elements, all in a suitable arrangement. Habitat for pheasants/ducks also benefits various other wildlife & bird species.
– 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?

– Empathetic children may encounter moral dilemmas such as how to kill the 12 or 13 babies in an opossums pouch, and later learn that they did this killing of babies, based on lies told them by SD GFP about effects of a bounty program on nesting success. How does this engage children with nature or give them trust in government?Hantavirus or

Folks put up national petitions four years ago to collect signatures against the program.  The introduction to the petitions is dated (4 years old), but the signatures will be presented to the Commission on Thursday 1/12/23.

 CARE2 petition currently has 168,652 signatures and the LADYFREE THINKER petition has 27,849.  
 This NPBP began 4 years ago, the petitions were written that year. – it has been funded repeatedly since the first year.. 

Past years SDGFP furbearer reports – learn about trapping statistics in our state 



Visit these links on predator control and pheasants/ducks:

       We refer you to Pheasants Forever’s web page on “Effects of Predators”,

                              Ducks Unlimited’s web page on “Ducks, Habitat Conservation & Predators” and Predators low res.pdf

       Also see page 11 of SD GFP’s Pheasant Management Plan, in the section on predators that says:   “Where predator control may be considered as a management option, managers should be aware that cost, logistics, and lack of effectiveness often limit success when compared to habitat management.   (emphasis added)