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Governor's Column: Preserving A Century-Long Tradition





 

            Office of Gov. Dennis Daugaard

500 E. Capitol Ave.

Pierre, S.D. 57501

605-773-3212

www.sd.gov

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Friday, September 4, 2015

CONTACT:  Tony Venhuizen or Kelsey Pritchard at 605-773-3212

 

EDITORS/NEWS DIRECTORS:  Please consider the following column from Gov. Dennis Daugaard. For an audio recording of the Governor’s weekly column, visit news.sd.gov/media.aspx and click on “Audio” under “Governor Dennis Daugaard.”

 

 

Preserving A Century-Long Tradition

 

A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

 

Next month, tens of thousands of hunters will take to the fields and grasslands of South Dakota to seek a colorful upland game bird – the rooster pheasant.

 

Over the last century, pheasant hunting has become one of South Dakota’s most beloved traditions. This will be the 96th year that South Dakotans have pursued ring-necks in our state. According to our South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Agency, it should be a good year. In their annual pheasant brood survey, the pheasant count is up by 42 percent.

 

The news wasn’t as good a couple of years ago when the pheasant count was down 64 percent from the previous year. The pheasant population was the lowest it had been in a dozen years.

 

In response to the low numbers that year, I hosted the Pheasant Habitat Summit and appointed a work group to evaluate hundreds of comments, suggestions and letters that resulted from the summit.

 

The work group made eight recommendations, and some have already been accomplished.  The Federal Duck Stamp was raised to $25, and crop insurance is now available for winter wheat in South Dakota. 

 

The work group also found that lack of adequate habitat is a problem. Pheasant numbers are higher where quality habitat still exists – areas like grasslands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program and in growing winter wheat fields. With the decline in CRP acres, conserving habitat areas in our state is a challenge.

 

One of the work group’s recommendations was to establish the South Dakota Habitat Conservation Fund. The Fund provides a permanent funding source for wildlife habitat work. So far, private donors have contributed a total of $425,000 to the Fund and state government has dedicated $350,000.

 

Even with the increase in pheasant numbers this year, we still need to be proactive about improving habitat. Not surprisingly, in addition to habitat, pheasant numbers have a lot to do with the weather. South Dakota has experienced a couple of good years for pheasant nesting thanks to favorable weather conditions; but we can’t risk our pheasant hunting future by counting on that weather pattern to continue.

 

That is why I’m challenging the Habitat Conservation Board to raise an additional $1 million in private money for habitat conservation. I’m pledging to match that amount with $1 million in state funds, if the group can meet that goal.

 

Pheasant hunting is a treasured century-long tradition in our state. If you’re interested in helping us preserve this tradition for future generations, I hope you’ll consider giving a donation to the South Dakota Habitat Conservation Fund. To donate, go to the South Dakota Community Foundation website and search “South Dakota Conservation Fund.” Help our S.D. pheasants find more nesting homes.

 

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