- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The Game, Fish and Parks Commission this week rejected nearly all proposed changes aimed at expanding South Dakota’s non-resident waterfowl license system, something many hunters in the state have pushed against.

At its meetings Thursday and Friday, the commission considered 15 changes to its non-resident license system. The proposals included adding another non-resident waterfowl hunting unit to the six already in the state and adding 100 youth licenses, the Capital Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1GgapOd ).

The changes were brought forward by a work group created at the direction of the state Legislature last year to study the issue, which has been contentious for decades.

Resident duck and goose hunters have pushed to keep more non-resident hunters out of South Dakota’s dwindling wetlands while proponents of the changes argued more non-resident hunters means more money for local businesses.

“I believe it is my duty is to preserve South Dakota hunting for South Dakota hunters,” Commissioner Barry Jensen said before voting against the proposal Friday. “That is my foremost duty.”

The only piece of the proposal the commission kept was the provision that would create 100 youth licenses for the state’s weekend-long youth waterfowl season held the week before the regular season opens at the end of September.

Two men from North Dakota also spoke against the proposal saying they’d seen the effect of more non-resident waterfowl hunters in their home state and didn’t want South Dakota to suffer the same fate.

“I have seen the future if you make the decision before you,” Dave Brant of Buchanan, North Dakota said. “I have watched as North Dakota’s duck hunting has gone from world class to second class.”

About 40 people spoke at the hearing Friday. Only three of them clearly spoke in favor of the proposal.

Norbe Berrie, who served on the non-resident waterfowl work group that created the proposal and spoke in favor of it, said all South Dakotans should benefit from the state’s resources, not just hunters. He said more non-residents means more money for local business.

“All South Dakotans deserve a piece of this pie,” he said.

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Information from: Pierre Capital Journal, http://www.capjournal.com

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