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LETTER: SD should address pheasant problem

To the Editor:

Sadly, for us, this has been the most disappointing opener in almost 20 years. Miles upon miles evidenced neither CRP nor pheasant road kill. Local newspapers cited “elusive birds” and diminished non-resident hunters as the cause for poor bird harvests. Our experienced group of hunters with dogs have pursued these “elusive birds” for many seasons with outstanding results.

What we did see was little if any CRP, roadside bailing of hay, abandoned homesites now planted with corn, tree lines or shelter belts excavated to plant corn and no food plots.

Yes, I know that the corn and soybean harvest was late due to heavy late rains, and after the corn is out, birds will migrate to available cover — but folks, this year there won’t be many migrators.

I don’t know the amount of dollars that ethanol or corn harvests contribute to the South Dakota economy, but I do know that our favorite bar and grill last year at the same time was packed to the rafters. This year we were the only customers. Several guests staying at our hotel left one or two days early — paying for the rooms regardless — feeling that days of seeing no birds wasn’t worth the time spent.

Many restaurants, small businesses, gas stations, quick shops, etc., depend upon nonresident hunters to get them through the winter months. In fact, one owner lamented that she didn’t know if she could stay in business much longer.

The first step in solving a problem is admitting there is a problem. According to some published media reports, there is no problem.

I know there isn’t an easy solution to the problem, and it will probably take three to five years to make a significant impact, but somehow the interests of the farmers and non-resident hunters must be balanced.

It would be sad if we couldn’t hunt next year in South Dakota, but like any business we will have to put our dollars into a location that offers the best chance of a good harvest.