South Dakota talks transferrable hunting licenses | TSLN.com

South Dakota talks transferrable hunting licenses

HB 1094, a bill to allow landowners in South Dakota to transfer up to two "landowner licenses" for deer and antelope, passed the House Ag and Natural Resources Committee 7-6 Jan. 31.

Rancher and former South Dakota legislator Mark DeVries, Kadoka, said he recalls the topic being discussed during his tenure in the capitol and he supports the concept.

The bill would allow farmers and ranchers who operate on 640 acres or more in the state to transfer up to two licenses to an interested hunter, without payment.

Allowing landowners to transfer tags gives a nod to the ranchers and farmers who feed and water deer and antelope throughout the year, said DeVries, but will not make enough difference in deer populations to be considered a deer management tool.

Tony Leif, the director of the wildlife division of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, in his 15 minute testimony to the committee said the bill would pit hunters against landowners and he fears that some landowners who aren't currently obtaining landowner tags will decide to apply for them in order to transfer them to someone else. He listed the number of hunters on waiting lists to obtain deer and antelope licenses.

Even though the bill calls for the transfer of the licenses to be "without payment or consideration," Leif emphasized more than once his concern that landowners could sell tags for a profit.

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Of the GFP's $48 million budget, about $7 million, or just shy of 15 percent, is used to compensate landowners for hunting access, Leif said.

Landowner tags are currently limited to an operator and spouse and the children who live on the place and are legal to hunt. DeVries said with this limitation, landowner tags cannot be considered a depradation tool, but are more of a "thank you" to the state's land owners and managers.

"If there is severe damage, actions need to be taken at different times of the year above and behond hunting to curb it," said DeVries.

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks recently sent out a news release acknowledging the concentration of deer on ranchers' feed sources and offered help.

The press release said, "The South Dakota GFP has programs and services available, designed to reduce damage to landowners' and producers' operations. GFP can provide protective panels or fencing to keep deer from accessing stored-feed supplies as well as using hazing techniques, depredation pool hunts, and short-stopping to keep deer away from farmyards and other areas which hold livestock feed."

Representatives May, Bartling, Brunner, Dennert, DiSanto, Gosch, Lesmeister, Livermont, Marty, and Qualm and Senators Sutton, Frerichs, Heinert, Maher, Nelson, and Russell co-sponsor the bill.