Letter: Pheasants in SD forever? Questionable.
To the Editor:
Headline in Aug. 6 Watertown Public Opinion: “State proposes extending pheasant hunting season,” is misleading. It should read “Mini-White House in Pierre and governor appointed GF&P commissioner get what they desire.”
Several former GF&P employees have indicated the staff of the GF&P is at an all-time low. Ask the former wildlife division director how much input into spending GF&P dollars he had on the tail and trap fiasco? How did that program work this year?
The brood survey was not intended to be a season setter but a long-term trend setter. Wilbur Foss put countless hours laboring over data to establish trends. The governor’s office and cabinet and GF&P commissioner must have degrees in wildlife management, so we should have no worries.
The longer season is the most outrageous of all the proposals. Drive everything out of cover, roosters, hens. They go where?
During Gov. Daugaard’s Pheasant Congress in Huron, one proposal was a hunter paid habitat stamp; $10-$20 per hunter. The idea was defeated because it would create little revenue. A conservation tax, however, 1 percent or less, would be a tremendous boost to our pheasant population.
The pheasant hunting market group is all about attracting more hunters. How about attracting more birds? There is no easy answer, but we could be open and honest about factors affecting bird numbers. We, as farmers, do way too good of a job at keeping fields weed and bug free. Draining and tiling do pheasants no beneficial good. Ripping up grasslands do them great harm. The nematicide could be catastrophic for young birds. More research is needed. The size and speed of modern-day farm equipment leaves little room or time for escape. Why not encourage less or better use of chemicals and better use of small grain for crop rotations as some universities are currently researching.
The state and federal agencies could lend financial support to help change the food landscape. Part of that problem is corn and soybean subsidies.
The saying “build it and they will come;” build your hunter numbers but there better be “birds.”