TO: South Dakota Game Fish & Parks Commission
FROM: South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together (SD FACT)
RE: OPPOSE Nest Predator Bounty Program
Dear Interim Sec. Robling, Director Kirschenmann, Chairman Olson, and Members of the Commission:
South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together (SD FACT) again writes strongly in opposition to continuing the Nest Predator Bounty Program into the future and to any potential department sponsored legislation for 2021/22. With support from over 5,000 members, we provide the following:
We remain vehemently opposed to the inhumane Nest Predator Bounty Program (NPBP). The long check-times, the lengthened season, and the unlimited numbers allowed all contribute to the inevitability of suffering for target animals and those that are indiscriminately trapped by happenstance.
There does not appear to be any scientific review of predator numbers and the effect of the bounty program upon these species. As a public resource, it is vital that accurate and unbiased information concerning predator numbers be researched. Also, given the vital role provided by these native species and their control of ticks and other disease-carrying varmints, a review of potential negative effects on human health is required.
We are requesting the Commission reverse their position to forego an environmental impact assessment under SDCL 34A-9-4 on the bounty program given these serious concerns. Failure to gather information and conduct assessments concerning the continuation of this radical program would be knowingly negligent and a clearly unwarranted abuse of your discretion as a public entity in charge of preserving a public resource and maintaining public health.
We once again remind you that every animal has its role to play in an ecosystem and contributes to human health & quality of life. Here's why these varmints are so important to all of us:
Raccoons are scavengers and therefore are an important part of cleaning up carrion. They also dine on many other species we consider pests when numbers get out of control; including snakes, frogs, lizards, wasps and rats.
Skunks do an amazing job at helping to keep insect populations in check- insects like grasshoppers, beetles, crickets and wasps. Skunks are one of the best examples of how an animal we really want to avoid is actually one we want to keep around.
Scientists call the badger a sentinel species, one that provides clues about the health of its ecosystem. They are excellent hunters of earth-dwelling prey including rabbits, groundhogs, ground squirrels, mice and snakes.
Opossums are incredibly useful, and often misunderstood. Ticks, particularly the black-legged ticks like deer ticks that are responsible for the spread of Lyme disease, are a top item on the opossum’s menu. Just one opossum eats, on average, 5,000 ticks each year. This means the 5,700 opossums trapped by past NPBP's has resulted in 28.5 million more ticks throughout our state.
These varmints have a helpful side for farmers and ranchers. Like their larger canid cousin the coyote, red foxes are wonderful at keeping rodent populations down. They hunt chipmunks, rats, mice, voles and all sorts of other small rodents that can become more of a pest to humans than the fox themselves. They also eat carrion and like other varmints on this list, are part of an important cleanup crew for their ecosystem.
Trapped animals can languish and die slowly from shock, dehydration, starvation and exposure to the elements. In addition, because the NPBP was initiated when these animals were rearing their young, those babies were left to die a cruel death when their mothers were killed...for their tail. Each year, traps in the United States injure and kill millions of “non-target” animals, including companion animals and endangered species. Because of this cruel and unnecessary practice, and the importance of the animals involved, SD FACT strongly opposes the Nest Predator Bounty Program and urges the commission to consider all aspects of the ecosystem.
Finally, as tax paying citizens we vehemently object to the needless expenditure of state funds on this exercise. It is your duty to spend public monies wisely and preserve our way of life for the “next century” by meeting our constitutional budgetary obligations of which this unscientific, ideological giveaway runs far afield.
SD FACT Board of Directors
Shari Kosel, Lead
Sara Parker, Sioux Falls
Joe Kosel, Lead