Panel member wants changes in pheasant-tagging at preservesPIERRE — A state Game, Fish and Parks Commission member wants to raise the cost of tagging pheasants shot at commercial shooting preserves — hiking the tag cost by as much as 10 times — to raise money that would provide more public access to hunting grounds.
By: Chet Brokaw, The Associated Press
PIERRE — A state Game, Fish and Parks Commission member wants to raise the cost of tagging pheasants shot at commercial shooting preserves — hiking the tag cost by as much as 10 times — to raise money that would provide more public access to hunting grounds.
Randy Kemink, a commissioner from Gettysburg, also wants to change the tags placed on the pheasants at those preserves to distinguish between wild pheasants and the pen-raised birds that the preserves release.
Kemink suggested the changes during the commission’s meeting last week in Pierre. The tag change was not on the agenda, but Kemink pitched his proposal after the panel discussed the idea of increasing the daily bag limit on preserves from 15 rooster pheasants to 20.
Commissioners agreed to propose the increased bag limit and tag changes; a formal hearing will be held on both issues when the commission meets Aug. 6-7 in Mobridge.
Preserves now must put the same tag on each pheasant shot, wild or pen-raised. They pay the state 5 cents per tag.
Kemink’s proposal would require preserves to put different tags on wild and released birds. Tags for wild birds would cost 50 cents, while those for pen-raised pheasants would be 15 cents.
The increased fee could raise $40,000 to $50,000 a year, and Kemink said the extra money could help provide more public access to hunting. The Game, Fish and Parks Department each year leases much hundreds of thousands of acres that is open to the public.
Janelle Blaha, who administers the preserve program, said 226 preserves are licensed and intend to operate on 227,000 acres this fall.
People have asked commissioners and state wildlife officials what the state is doing to monitor the commercial shooting preserves, Kemink said, adding that using different tags for wild and penraised pheasants would give a better count of how many of each are killed.
Each year the preserves must release at least one rooster pheasant for each one that’s shot, and they report how many wild birds and how many pen-raised pheasants their customers shoot.
In most years, about 80 percent of the birds shot on preserves are pen-raised roosters that are released, according to department reports.
Tony Leif, state Wildlife Division director, said current fees paid by preserves do not cover all the agency’s costs of administering the preserve program.
In addition to the tag fees set by rule, state law also requires each preserve to pay a $100 annual fee and 40 cents per acre in the operation.
Brett Koenecke, a Pierre lawyer who represents some preserve operators, said the tag proposal caught him by surprise. He said he does not understand the reason for proposing higher tag fees for wild birds.
Koenecke asked the commission to boost the daily bag limit on preserves to 20 roosters. Some preserves have customers who would pay to shoot more birds, he said.
Preserves can operate from Sept. 1 through March 31. This year, the regular pheasant season outside preserves starts Oct. 17 and ends Jan. 3.