- Associated Press - Thursday, October 6, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Two South Dakota hunting groups want to keep out-of-state waterfowl hunters out of the north central part of the state.

The South Dakota Wildlife Federation and the South Dakota Waterfowl Association are asking the Game, Fish and Parks Commission to revoke nonresident waterfowl licenses available for use outside of a five-county Missouri River unit.

The petition came this year after the Legislature added five north central counties to the list of those in which 1,500 three-day licenses can be used by out-of-state hunters.

The two hunting groups contend the nonresident licenses might have been issued illegally.

The groups also say the expansion violates their hunting rights.

“There are a whole lot of South Dakotans who feel like they’ve lost pheasant hunting to out-of-staters, and they’ve lost West River deer to out-of-staters,” said George Vandel of the South Dakota Wildlife Federation. “Waterfowl is what we have left.”

The heated discussion of licenses began after a negotiation deal in 1998 between resident duck and goose hunters and landowners in central South Dakota. The deal created a waterfowl access area which leased private land for public hunting. In return resident hunters agreed to support issuing 2,000 three-day waterfowl licenses that would only be valid on private land.

“The landowners in the northeast and north central parts of the state just want to live off of what central South Dakota landowners did. We’re just calling them on it,” said Chris Hesla, executive director of the South Dakota Wildlife Federation.

The petition also seeks to invalidate 500 licenses for eight northeastern South Dakota counties that the Legislature added in 2002.

Supporters of the expansion such as Rep. Dick Werner believe it could potentially give the north central counties an economic boost.

“These five counties have had to work hard to find out how to make their communities thrive,” Werner said.

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