The South Dakota House of Representatives voted 55-13 Monday to add a $1 surcharge to hunting licenses in an effort to raise money to deal with the state’s growing predator problem. Rep. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City, said the move would generate about $300,000 annually to counter the coyote problem that “has exploded.”
“We have way more predators than we have money to deal with them,” Olson told the Rapid City Journal.
She added that coyotes have dropped the deer and antelope populations significantly, continue to contribute to sheep losses and last year the canines were responsible for 50 calf deaths. Olson said the new $1 surcharge will allow the state Department of Game, Fish & Parks to hire at least two more trappers — now called wildlife damage specialists by GF&P — to help assuage the problem.
The Senate is also working to help in the fight against coyotes. It has a pending bill that earmarks $300,000 immediately for predator control, with the funds available through June 30, 2014.
Undoubtedly the Department of Game, Fish & Parks hopes this will help revive their image problem as local ranchers have criticized the agency in years past for their perceived lack of effort on the predator problem. One of the many complaints is that wildlife damage specialists have additional wildlife work duties that keep them from solely concentrating on the predator situation.