Contributors to this thread:
SD is at it again. Sheep for Pheasants.
The info is on the first two pages of the attached link. SD is once again attempting to steal funds raised by the WSF and reallocate them to the Second Century Habitat Initiative. This habitat initiative is going to be focused on creating pheasant habitat often focusing on private landowner improvements including commercial pheasant operations. Basically they are going to auction off a tag good for the Badlands unit in Pennington County where the world record ram was shot last year and they are going to funnel those funds to raising pheasants that the majority of sportsmen will never have a chance to hunt. We fought this battle recently and won but our state game commission will not rest until they have ruined this opportunity to raise money for sheep in SD. Please help us again try to protect SD’s wild sheep by contacting the SD GFP Commission and opposing this change. I am 100% OK with them including the Badlands unit in the valid auction tag area, however those funds should remain 100% dedicated to wild sheep. Thanks.
Contact information for the commission can be found at the attached link. Thank you gentlemen for taking the time to help keep our sheep on the mountain!
Is the national WSF and/or the local chapter that sold the tag(s) getting involved with legal action?
Back to the trenches. "Regulators, mount up!"
Here is a link to the previous thread discussion we had when we fought this battle not long ago. There's some good background info in here, etc related to the agreement between WSF and the SD GFP.
"Is the national WSF and/or the local chapter that sold the tag(s) getting involved with legal action?"
Merty, I'm not sure what grounds they would have based upon the contract/agreement they currently have with the state. The state could yank the tag from WSF for pretty much any reason and do with it as they wish. Our new Governor has all kinds of crazy ideas for putting more pheasants in the field and she is hell bent on making them all happen. The latest is a "nest predator bounty program" which gives folks $10 for the tails of each dead possum, raccoon, skunk, and fox they turn in. As a result I haven't seen a road kill in 3 months that still has a tail on it! That's the nonsense and the waste of sportsmen's funds here we're dealing with. If you want to see $400k in sheep money walk out the door to pay for possum tails then she's the one for you!
The easiest way to submit a public comment on this proposal is at this link. The proposal to oppose is the Bighorn Sheep Auction Tag Change. Thank you again for your assistance.
"...and they are going to funnel those funds to raising pheasants that the majority of sportsmen will never have a chance to hunt."
Justin, I'm in full agreement with your concern with this, but I'll admit I'm confused by the statement above. Why would the sportsmen not have a chance to hunt pheasant? It's mostly irrelevant- sheep funds should be used for the sheep, but I'm curious what you mean with this.
Not trying to be a troublemaker here- just looking for clarification.
Just submitted form good luck and keep up the good fight.
Scoot, if the funding is used to develop habitat initiatives on private lands then most sportsmen would not have the opportunity to hunt those lands outside of those with landowner permission or those who pay for a guided hunt. It could be argued that private land habitat improvements would result in more pheasants that might be incidentally harvested on adjoining public parcels but that is up for debate.
Here's a link to the pheasant habitat initiatives I referenced. These habitat initiatives are outstanding on their own merit and I support them wholeheartedly. However, I do not support sheep dollars being earmarked for private landowner programs. These programs are used by producers in SD many times to create pheasant habitat which is then turned into a pheasant hunting pay to hunt operation which makes some money for the landowner on marginal ground. Again, I used to work for one of these places as a guide, I support them 100%. However they should be funded through existing USDA, SD Ag programs, and Pheasants Forever NOT through our sheep $. There's a 100 ways to raise money for pheasants, sheep currently have but one.
The downturn in pheasant numbers coincided with skyrocketing land prices and high crop prices. SD used to have lots of acres of CRP, tree belts and slough ground. When the crop prices skyrocketed the farmers destroyed that habitat for production. I cringe when I see guys bulldozing tree groves from the soil bank years to farm that land. It's sad.
Eliminating predators won't have any tangible effect if they don't increase the nesting ground. The answer to the pheasant problem is making the money paid for CRP ground higher than marginal crop land.
Done. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
You are 100% on the mark JayZ.
Thanks for that info, Justin- makes sense and I missed the private/public piece of that.
JayZ is right! One thing that has impacted that a ton is the minimal till farming practices that are used now. They really devalue the tree rows and shelter belts that help with wind erosion. Since their purpose isn't valued much anymore due to this change in practice, they're getting yanked out.
Gentlemen the SD GFP Commission is currently in the public comment phase of this proposal before it is finalized at the June meeting. There were no changes made to the proposal at the commission meeting in May. If approved as it stands the proposal will result in the majority of funds raised via the auction tag being diverted from WSF and wild sheep to be used to fund habitat initiatives for upland game hunting. The link above will take you to the form to submit public comment opposing the change. Please take a few moments to submit a comment to help wild sheep in SD. Thank you.
You can feel free to enter whatever text you like but if you wish you can simply copy and paste what I have written below. Thank you for taking a few minutes to help out our sheep.
"Commissioners, I strongly oppose the use of ANY funds raised via the sale of an auction tag for bighorn sheep being utilized for ANY program that does not directly benefit wild sheep in South Dakota. The bighorn auction tag was specifically authorized to be utilized by the Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation to raise funds for wild sheep research and conservation in South Dakota. The funds raised by the sale of this tag should be solely dedicated to that purpose. Funds for the second century habitat initiative can be raised through habitat stamp programs, increases in small game hunting licenses for non-residents, and via conservation organizations which are strictly dedicated to that purpose. Thank you for your consideration."
Done. Thanks for making it easy Brotsky.
I commented last week and I'll do it again. Not that I think it will do any good. When they proposed changing the draw structure you'd think armageddon was on the way. This doesn't seem to move the needle in the same way at least with the people I've talked to .
Not sure that a Non-Ressy commenting will carry much value but it's worth the few minutes to comment/submit
Good luck, Robb
Agreed Griz. The average Joe hunter figures he’ll never get a sheep tag in his life so why should they care? Sad that we as sportsmen allow these things to go down without putting up a fight. Frankly it’s sad the amount of involvement we see from SD sportsmen on all issues related to the commission. Thanks for taking the time to comment again!
I feel like we just went through this? I will check my emails and resend to the SD legislature's.
Its amazing how freaking short sighted they can be
Trial, about 60 days ago to be precise. I feel like no matter how much blowback or negative public commentary they get they will ram this through. Our state game commission has been excellent in years past but the past 18 months or so they have really run off the rails. Part of it has to do with our new Governor who has been a wolf in sheep's clothing so to speak on conservation.
The problem is there are a lot more pheasant hunters that likely hope this goes through compared to sheep guys that attempt to try and show how wrong this is (BTW I do agree and did send a comment that the funds should be left for sheep). I'm a die-hard pheasant hunter and spend 10 days in SD chasing them, but I don't think the SD economy is hurting for pheasant numbers or hunters (I killed limits on public everyday last year we hunted).
Thank you all for your comments! I'm pretty sure we're going to get railroaded on this but lets not go down without a fight!
Below is the response I received from our GFP Commission related to the changes in our auction tag funding:
On behalf of the GFP Commission, I am writing to thank you for your message on the subject of the Bighorn Sheep (BHS) Auction Tag.
While the unit expansion for the next BHS draw is expected to generate tremendous interest in the auction and generate more funds for habitat throughout the state, we will be maintaining an amount equal to the average income of previous sales that will go to BHS habitat work exclusively.
I feel it is also important to point out that, in addition to the funds resulting from the annual auction, the Department funds other habitat work benefitting BHS. To be certain of the accuracy of my response, I requested the following information from the Department.
Over the past few years, GFP has expended over $200,000 a year for bighorn sheep management activities. Those activities include habitat projects, researching herds and disease issues, monitoring and surveying herds, and cooperatively working with partners like Pine Ridge and the state of Wyoming.
Funds used to conduct these activities are a combination of license dollars, federal aid dollars in the form of Pitman-Robertson funds, bighorn sheep auction funds, and partnership funds provided to specific projects from entities such as the Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation.
The Midwest Chapter has been a great partner in bighorn sheep conservation as well as other efforts put forward for Mountain Goats. We appreciate their long-term commitment to SD and we look forward to continuing that successful partnership.
The plan moving forward would be to commit $85,000 of the funds raised by the auction tag to bighorn sheep management activities, and the remainder going to help with the Second Century Habitat efforts.
It is important to understand that in administrative rule the language around the auction tag talks about big game management, not specifically just to bighorn sheep management. Funds raised by the auction tag and used to help supplement efforts of the Second Century Habitat work will no doubt benefit big game populations in the state, in particular deer.
GFP remains committed to working on bighorn sheep management activities in an effort to maintain bighorn sheep herds and provide this limited, but unique hunting opportunity.
Thank you again for your input. Each commissioner reads appreciates all public comments.
Mary Anne Boyd Yankton
A couple of facts:
1. The tag sold for $89k in 2019. It has sold for over $100k in the past, the amount has varied some over the years.
2. There is a $10 application fee and a $10 preference point fee on each application for bighorn sheep each year in SD. The number of people that apply or buy points probably puts that number for funding around $60k give or take. The additional funding from P-R funds and the WSF fills in the gaps. Funding for wild sheep is likely being 100% financed BY wild sheep.
3. The habitat initiatives are, as referenced above, focused on upland game habitat on private lands at this point along with a bounty program for nest predators. While those habitat improvements would likely benefit deer on private lands, the average hunter would likely not have access to pursue hunting on those lands. I could lend a little support to this if the funds raised by the sale of a public resource were used to benefit lands accessible to the public.
4. This is being driven by the Governor's office and is going to pass regardless of public input. I recognize that as a fact at this point but I will go kicking and screaming to the end!
Thanks again for all of your time and input. Please keep sending them!