SD lawmakers take aim at predatorsLegislature considers extra funding for control efforts.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — The Legislature, in response to perceptions of a worsening problem, is preparing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more in the coming years to pay for shooting and trapping more coyotes and other predators that kill livestock and game animals in South Dakota.
The state House of Representatives voted 55-13 Monday to add another $1 surcharge to most hunting licenses. The legislation, HB 1123, would generate about $300,000 annually, according to Rep. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City, its prime sponsor.
She said that could enable the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks to hire at least two more trappers and possibly more for its animal damage control program.
“We have way more predators than we have money to deal with them,” Olson said.
She said coyote numbers slackened for a while because of mange. “Now they have come back and the population has exploded,” she said.
Olson said deer and antelope populations are down and 50 calves reportedly were killed last year by coyotes.
At the same time, the Senate has a bill pending that would earmark $300,000 immediately for predator control, with the money available through June 30, 2014.
A hearing hasn’t been scheduled yet on SB 238, whose prime sponsor is Senate Republican leader Russ Olson, of Wentworth.
Rep. Scott Parsley, D-Madison, noted during the House debate on Rep. Olson’s bill that the money in Sen. Olson’s bill, if passed, would be available in time for calving and lambing season this spring. Rep. Olson’s bill would take effect July 1. Parsley later voted against the surcharge.
Most hunting licenses already carry a $5 surcharge in South Dakota, with $2.50 used for contracting for private land to be used for public walk-in hunting areas and the other $2.50 dedicated to wildlife management including animal damage control.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.