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GFP Commission proposes new way to look at hunting opportunities for nonresidents

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072514 mule deer off Wells Ave3.JPG

After more than a year of work, the Game, Fish and Parks Commission has accepted a proposal to create a new set of criteria to evaluate hunting opportunities available to nonresidents

If approved, the new criteria would give Commissioners another way to evaluate proposed changes to hunting opportunities open to nonresidents. It’ll also give anyone seeking to petition the Commission for rule changes related to nonresident hunters some questions to answer before submitting the petition, Commissioner Doug Sharp said.

“If people could come to the commission with as many of these addressed as possible, I think it’ll make everyone’s job easier,” Sharp said.

One of the first non-resident opportunities that likely will be reviewed is archery deer hunting.

South Dakota residents have been growing increasingly frustrated by the rising number of nonresident archery deer hunters. The state is one of the few states in the nation that does not restrict the number of mule deer archery hunting licenses available to nonresidents. The price of that license also happens to be pretty inexpensive compared to what other states charge.

On Feb. 28, the Commission rejected several petitions aimed, mostly at restricted the number of mule deer nonresident hunters kill. The reason behind the rejection, Commissioners said, was that they wanted to wait for the criteria proposed Thursday.

Under the proposal, there are five main points encompassing 17 individual criteria that the Commission will use when making decisions about hunting opportunities available to nonresidents.

“Some of these things are pretty basic … some of these things are going to be controversial,” said Commission chair Gary Jensen.

The first main point is what the issue is. The point includes why a change is needed, why alternatives exist, how public input will be gathered, and how the change will be evaluated.

The second main point encompasses historical considerations. Those considerations include current and projected trends in license sales, documented or perceived hunter densities and their ramifications. How other states deal with similar situations also would be part of the considerations.

The third main point covers biological considerations. Such considerations include population status of the species being hunted and habitat conditions. This point also would be used to consider how much support for the species being hunted comes from federal or national non-governmental sources.

The fourth main point looks at social considerations for a proposed change. So such things as how the change would affect residents, nonresidents both now and in the future. It also would include how the change would affect opportunities to recruit new hunters and patterns of land ownership.

The fifth and final main point looks at how a proposed change would affect how much money the state has to spend on conservation.

While the creation of the new criteria isn’t actually a rule change and thus isn’t subject to the 30-day public comment period required by state law, the Commission will be accepting comments on them until it’s next meeting. That meeting is scheduled for May 2 and May 3 in Custer State Park.