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The Case for Pheasants – That’s a Head Scratcher

January 30, 2018 by

The Case for Pheasants – That’s a Head Scratcher

This, the 7th article in the Case for Pheasants Series, attempts to uncover some questionable areas of policy and practices.  Things that leave us with more questions than answers.  They leave us scratching our heads trying to make sense out of them.

The following areas have always perplexed me much and I often wonder if there are not better ways to manage resources.

2018 Governors Conference on Tourism – Where is the Pheasantennial Party?

Years ago when I used to think attending this event was important to my tourism business, I would show up in blaze orange to represent my industry.  It’s weird when you are the only one in a crowd of 1000 attendees wearing blaze orange.  A couple years ago the big tourism event of the year was the Sturgis “75 year anniversary” rally.   Boy did the Governor's Conference make a big deal out of this and they held quite the “Biker” themed party on one of the nights of the conference.  This year is the 100th anniversary of the 1st pheasant hunting season in South Dakota.  The word “Pheasant” was not listed anywhere in the whole week's agenda let alone a party for the state's biggest fall celebration and for sure a national attraction.  That’s a head scratcher.  Aside from the tourism department's sponsorship of Pheasants Forever (which is great), I see no backing or support for the State's Bird.  I do see a ton of state cash going to marketing companies and out of state advertisers trying to bring tourists in to hunt.  Dollars invested in bird producing habitat would do a much better job in not only attracting visitors but in retaining them in future years as well.

SD Codified Law 41-2-23 – GFP Improvement of Wildlife Habitat

GFP states in their pheasant management plans, and other places, that their #1 objective is to partner with private landowners.  I have worked with numerous private landowners over the years and have yet to run across one that would consider GFP a “partner” of theirs.  Laws like the one above are the reason why.  If GFP $ are spent on private land habitat, it states in the law that “reasonable public access” must be attained.  Fair enough.  However, the way this law is enforced is if you received any money from fee hunting, you are ineligible.  Outfitters are required to operate only on private lands and they generate almost all of the license and sales tax revenue for GFP.  Yet they are ineligible, due to this law, to receive any reinvestment funds from the state.  Partner?  That’s a head scratcher. 80% of the state's acreage is privately owned. It seems foolish to have a law that prohibits marrying private funding with public funding to establish cover that produces pheasants.

South Dakota Opportunity Group

I met this group at one of the tourism conferences a few years back.  I joined because they said they were for changing legislation to make game and fish laws more helpful in generating revenue for local businesses based on the tourism dollars associated with the outdoor activity.  Certainly a wise and noble cause for a group and one that I would continually support.  However, all this group has ever produced, focused or communicated on is legislation revolving around non-resident waterfowl licenses.  They should change their name to the Non-Resident Waterfowl License Group.  This group has worked very hard to affect legislation but have done little to increase revenue associated with its tourism activity.  That’s a head scratcher.  Waterfowl is raised and harvested elsewhere in the country.  Shouldn’t we focus our energy on a game bird that resides in our state all year long?

“.EDU”, “.GOV”, “.ORG” & “.COM”

Each of these organization types operates in its own domain:  SDSU, GFP, Pheasants Forever and Monsanto.  Monsanto and all the private land in the state operate in the .COM domain (for profit).  This is why organizations in the other 3 domain types have such a hard time impacting practices and acres in private land domain.  Farmers are .COM’rs.  So are seed salesmen and herbicide salesmen.  Why do .EDU, .ORG and .GOV have such a hard time impacting .COM acres and organizations?  That’s a head scratcher.  Until the non-profits can learn to think like the for profits they will have a hard time impacting their world.  SDSU probably does the best of any non profit out there.  Why that is I do not know but it probably has something to do with cash flow.

700,000 Released Pheasants Become “Wild” Every Season

Approximately 700,000 domestically raised pheasants are trucked into state but are unaccounted for in the licensed preserve counts or any other count.  It is common knowledge that many non-preserve outfitters release pheasants.  Once they are turned loose, they are technically “wild” pheasants under state law and would need to be include in normal small game license harvest bag limits.  Many hunters cannot tell the difference between a pen-raised pheasant and a naturally produced pheasant.  That’s a head scratcher.  How many of the 1.1 million pheasants included in the hunter harvest survey were pen-raised?  Are we to think this does not hurt the brand of South Dakota being the Pheasant Capital?

$2.70/Bushel Corn Price, 4th largest Corn Crop and Epic Drought

That’s a head scratcher!  How can you have every county in the state declared a natural disaster area in 2017 and yet the state produces its 4th largest corn crop ever?  How do we ship corn to China and expect to make money when most producers in the state cannot afford to truck their crop to the elevator in the next town over?  With correct thinking and better management of resources, you can have it all.

Read all the articles in The Case For Pheasants series

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