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Out-of-state pheasant licenses drop by 19,000

Out-of-staters bought about 19,000 fewer small-game hunting licenses in South Dakota during 2013, dropping sales to their lowest point in 11 years.

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It was also the third consecutive year the state has experienced a decline in both nonresident and resident small-game license sales.

Chris Petersen, director of administration with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, said there were 76,301 nonresident small-game hunting licenses sold in 2013, below the 95,298 sold in 2012 and 96,983 sold in 2011.

“The last time it’s been this low was in 2002 when there were about 73,000 sold,” Petersen said.

The nonresident small-game license is most associated with out-of-staters coming to South Dakota to hunt pheasants.

Last year, the cost of a nonresident small-game license rose to $121. Previously, the license was $110. By selling 18,997 fewer nonresident small-game licenses in 2013 than in 2012, the state lost out on about $2.3 million in potential revenue.

The decline is likely tied to a report released prior to the pheasant season that showed statewide pheasant numbers had decreased 64 percent, the second largest drop from one year to the next in the history of the state’s brood survey, dating to 1949. The drop has been blamed mostly on a loss of habitat and unfavorable weather conditions.

Not as many locals chased pheasants in 2013, either.

There were 21,015 resident small-game licenses sold in 2013 at $30 apiece. That’s 6,861 fewer than in 2012 and $205,830 in lost potential revenue compared to 2012, when 27,876 licenses were sold. In 2011, there were 31,882 resident licenses sold, which was 10,867 more than 2013.

The recent peak in small-game license sales came in 2010, a year when the preseason pheasant population estimate was 9.84 million and 1.8 million birds were harvested. There were 102,010 nonresident small-game licenses sold that year and 35,096 resident licenses sold. Combined, there were about 40,000 more small-game licenses sold that year than in 2013.

Even though the pheasant season concludes at sundown Sunday, last year’s license numbers are “99.99 percent finalized,” Petersen said, because any licenses that are purchased now go on next year’s figures and can also be used next season. On Dec. 16, the GF&P started offering its 2014 licenses.

The 2014 statewide pheasant season is tentatively set to begin Oct. 18.

Small-game license numbers

The number of resident and nonresident small-game hunting licenses sold in South Dakota during the past five years, according to the Department of Game, Fish and Parks:

  • 2013: 76,301 resident, 21,015 nonresident
  • 2012: 95,298 resident, 27,876 nonresident
  • 2011: 96,983 resident, 31,882 nonresident
  • 2010: 102,010 resident, 35,096 nonresident
  • 2009: 98,643 resident, 34,418 nonresident