State Promoting Trapping with Free Trap Giveaway
(Reprinted from above link)
Governor Kristi Noem, on March 27, issued a Style and Form Veto on a bill that was part of her own Second Century Habitat Initiative.
Senate Bill 176 was sent back to the legislature to fix a drafting error and to clarify legislative intent. The bill would allocate $1 million from the state’s general fund for pheasant habitat.
Noem’s veto message reads in part, “Throughout the legislative debate on this bill, it was understood that these funds would come from dollars available in Fiscal Year 2019 … As Senate Bill 176 passed in its final form, however, it did not include an effective date in FY2019 … insert “Section 6. This act is effective on June 28, 2019.”
Moving the effective date to June 28 would eliminate the need for an emergency clause, while allowing the state government to use money budgeted for the 2019 fiscal year.
Noem announced her Second Century Initiative during the State of the State Address in January. “The first century of pheasant hunting put South Dakota on the map as a destination for every hunter. Now we must conserve and expand habitat to ensure that the second century of pheasant hunting will be as great as the first.” Noem said.
The million dollars is to be used to match private donations or match federal conservation programs or grants. The Second Century Initiative includes nest predator control programs, short and long-term habitat programs, the Hunt for Habitat program and a specialty license plate with all proceeds going to habitat management and solutions.
The live trap giveaway program, announced March 1, was so successful that the registering for free traps is already closed. Kieth Fisk, Game, Fish and Parks Department wildlife damage program manager, said the department plans to give away 16,150 traps by mid-October as part of the trap giveaway program. He said the total cost is expected to be around $900,000, due, in part, to volume discounts. Without discounts, the traps would cost about $947,000, Fisk said. The department is buying traps from a Belle Fourche company and from the Department of Corrections.
The Game, Fish and Parks Department’s strategic plan for 2016-2020 includes revitalizing trapping, increasing people’s interest in the outdoors, and reducing nest predators, a list that includes raccoon, striped skunk, badger, opossum, and red fox. The first 5,500 people who registered will receive their traps sometime after April 1. The traps are free, though trappers over 16 years old must have a furbearer license. Beginning in April, GF&P is hosting a series of Live Trapping 101 classes to teach regulations, ethics, wildlife conservation, how and where to set a live trap, types of baits, humane dispatch, non-targeted species and safety tips. Each of the 12 scheduled classes across the state is capped at 20 participants. Register online at https://gfp.sd.gov/trapping-education/.
The Second Century Habitat Initiative also includes a bounty on predators. The primary nest predators can be harvested year-round, though the GF&P bounty program is only expected to pay out during the pheasant and duck nesting season of April 1 to August 31. South Dakota residents can receive $10 per tail. The bounty season could end early if the cap of $500,000 is paid out before April 31. A South Dakota resident hunting license or a furbearer license is required to trap nest predators. That program still requires approval from the state’s Game, Fish and Parks Commission.
The Second Century Habitat Initiative on the GF&P website outlines three short-term habitat improvement approaches state money could be used for. The first short-term approach involves building on the saline & sodic soil program currently operated by Pheasants Forever and South Dakota Corn. According to GFP, each additional $1 million could enroll approximately 5,000 acres of marginal saline and sodic soils and provide habitat for upland nesting birds and other wildlife.
The second short-term approach outlined on the website would be to use state money to help increase enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program and by GFP working with the Natural Resource Conservation Service to improve habitat through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and other conservation programs.
The third short-term approach is to help add landowners to the Soil Health and Income Protection Program. Under the new Farm Bill, SHIPP will be a 50,000 acre pilot program to be enrolled by the end of 2020. Those acres are only available in Prairie Pothole Region states such as South Dakota. State money could be used to allow GF&P to help landowners enrolling in SHIPP cover the cost of seed.
There are two long-term habitat approaches outlined on the GFP website. The first is to continue conservation through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Once federal Farm Bill conservation programs are ready for implementation, state money can be used to match money granted through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s RCPP. State money also could be used to expand or enhance the federal SHIPP concept.
The second long-term habitat approach is “Every Acre Counts,” in which precision technologies would be used to help landowners more effectively use every acre of their operations. These management strategies will directly benefit farming. The effort could increase wildlife habitat by encouraging landowners not to plant crops on marginal acres in favor of grass or other plants suitable for wildlife habitat.