After long wrangle, SD bighorn ram license will be available for auctionFORT PIERRE — Unless the Legislature’s rules review committee stops it again, South Dakota will make a hunting license for a bighorn ram available for public auction this year.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
FORT PIERRE — Unless the Legislature’s rules review committee stops it again, South Dakota will make a hunting license for a bighorn ram available for public auction this year.
The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission gave its approval Thursday on the final plan to issue three licenses this year.
Resident hunters will be allowed to apply for one bighorn ram license in Custer County and one bighorn ram license in Pennington County.
A third bighorn ram license will be provided to the Wild Sheep Foundation to auction at a national hunting show in Reno, Nev., that is scheduled for late January and early February.
Proceeds from the auction license’s sale will be earmarked for the state Wildlife Division’s sheep program.
No one has publicly offered an amount certain that might be raised but the figures commonly cited have been in the tens of thousands of dollars, based on experiences of other states that have taken the same route.
The money will be specifically tracked under a December agreement between the division and the legislators on the rules panel.
Its next meeting isn’t scheduled until March. Division director Tony Leif said he will request a special meeting so that the plan is final before the sheep foundation holds the auction.
The rules panel had initially told the commission to do further work on the proposal and gather additional information from hunters.
When Leif and commission chairman Jeff Olson of Rapid City reported back to the rules panel last month, legislators asked additional questions but didn’t express any additional objections.
The only person to testify at the GF&P’s public hearing Thursday was an official from the Midwest chapter of the sheep foundation.
The commission received 17 written comments that were “pretty evenly split” about the benefits and ethics of selling a license to the high bidder, hearing officer Chuck Schlueter said.
The auction license will be available for use in both counties. None of the licenses can be used in Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Park.
The season will run Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. Two licenses were issued for the 2012 season and both hunters took rams. There were five licenses annually through 2010, with all five filled with rams, before a reduction to three licenses and three rams harvested in 2011.