Editor, The Daily Leader:
The Nest Predator Bounty Program is inhumane, wasteful and not based on science. When South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks accepted public input on this program last spring, less than 7% of the 400+ written submissions were in favor of the program.
Some reasons many South Dakotans are opposed to this bounty program:
1. The Nest Predator Bounty Program could unbalance our state's ecosystem. There was no scientific study done on the number of these "nest predator" species that currently inhabit South Dakota and no cap on each species to be killed. According to the GFP Operational Dashboard, the following tails have been submitted since this bounty program began in April 2019: 106,000 Raccoon, 15,700 Striped Skunk, 10,600 Opossum, 1,121 Red Fox and 1,093 Badger. Since the program began each spring, the kill totals don't include the many young that starved to death when their mothers were trapped.
2. Trapping is inhumane. In South Dakota, trappers are only required to check traps and snares every 3 days west of the Missouri River and every 2 days east of the Missouri River (with exemptions for illness and bad weather). Animals caught in traps for several days can be attacked by other animals, starve, dehydrate, or mangle their mouths and limbs trying to free themselves.
3. South Dakota doesn't require identification on traps, so there is no accountability for trappers who don't follow our state's weak trapping regulations.
4. Snares and traps are indiscriminate -- any animal can fall victim, including endangered species and companion animals. This is a big enough problem that GFP created videos teaching the public how to free dogs from traps and snares.
5. This program was created behind closed doors, without public or scientific input. It was pushed through outside of normal channels, without input from our state legislature. South Dakota put over $1.7 million toward this program in 2019, budgeted $250,000 in 2020 and allocated $500,000 for 2021. Another $500,000 has been budgeted for 2022.
6. There is no scientific tracking of the results to the pheasant population, to measure the success or failure of the program. The 2019 summer brood count didn't show an increase in pheasant numbers and GFP discontinued their annual pheasant brood survey the following year.
Despite public outcry, this cruel and ill-conceived program has been approved for 2022. The law recognizes the lives of these animals and the funds expended to kill them as collective resources. Please ask Gov. Noem and the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission to stop the needless slaughter and special interest giveaways!
Sioux Falls, July 28