My Aerial Hunting Comments, GF&P Action Proposal
May 2, 2004
By Julie Kay Smithson
To: South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks
I ask that you accept this email in its entirety as being my comments on aerial hunting in South Dakota and the SD Game, Fish & Parks 'action proposal.'
As you know, aerial hunting for predator control is a vital element of the livestock industry. Allowed on state-owned land for some time, predator control by aerial hunting not only helps reduce losses to livestock by predators, but also has the added benefit of helping wildlife, like pronghorn antelope, replenish their numbers.
Both the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service have drafted a Memorandum of Understanding that allows aerial hunting on public/federal lands.
Aerial hunting of coyote and fox should be conducted on public lands in South Dakota by state predator control district pilots and also by pilots flying to protect the livestock on state leased and federal (BLM and Forest Service) Animal Unit Month (AUM) permitted land -- not for sport-hunting and fur-hunting, but for predator control.
Aerial pilots are under the control of the SD Game, Fish and Parks Department, so their hunting activities are controlled by the department on both private and public lands -- without landowner or lessee permission, an aerial hunter cannot hunt on anyone’s land, public or private.
Aerial hunting is a vital element in the livestock industry. In these times of high land prices and high production costs, livestock producers cannot afford to lose their income to animal predator depredation.
Any livestock losses have a direct impact on the rancher's bottom line, as they are his sole source of income.
After other programs used in the past to control predators were either stopped or severely curtailed, aerial hunting became a necessity to livestock producers.
Annual aerial hunting permits, renewed each September, extend to just twelve aerial hunters permitted in the entire state. Aerial hunters should not be required to secure Game, Fish & Parks authorization prior to each hunt. This is time-consuming and costly, in terms of slowed response time, especially in emergency situations.
Non-landowner pilots may hunt only with landowner permission or by Game, Fish and Park’s request. When they do aerial hunt, they must contact a Game, Fish and Park employee on that day and report the location of their hunt and the area where the predator was shot.
The last permitted aerial hunter is the Harding County Demonstration Program Pilot. This permit allows the permitted pilots to conduct aerial hunting of predators on a pre-determined list of farms and ranches in the Multi-county Predator District year-round. These pilots will be required to report their hunting activities to the Game, Fish and Parks Department weekly.
Thank you for your time and consideration of my comments. I hope they will help in streamlining procedures to make aerial hunting in South Dakota become even more effective and cost-efficient and enhancing both livestock and wildlife numbers that have been negatively impacted by coyote and fox predation.