South Dakota has an interesting idea for hunter retention.
Hunter numbers in general are falling across the country and many state wildlife agencies are increasingly trying to get creative in ways to help hunters over the sport's colossal learning curve.
South Dakota's Game Fish and Parks department is considering an interesting new hunting license that officials are hoping will help curb the sharp decline in waterfowl hunters.
Department Senior Waterfowl Biologist Rocco Murano detailed more in an interview with Kelo.com.
"Waterfowl hunter numbers have declined fairly precipitously over the last 20 years and one of the things that's been identified as a potential barrier to recruiting and retaining waterfowl hunters is the need to be able to identify ducks on the wing before you shoot them," Murano told the station.
According to Murano, the solution they are looking at is a two-tiered licensing system. Hunters could choose which tier they wanted. One tier would only allow hunters to shoot three ducks per day as opposed to the usual bag limit of six. The big difference here is that there would be no restrictions on the sex or species of the animal.
He said the goal right now is to do the licensing as an experiment in the 2021-2022 seasons and they would do the testing of this system in cooperation with Nebraska over a three-year period. During that time, they would compare the numbers and look to see how it affects the waterfowl population. Murano said he doesn't expect it would affect the population. What they're really looking at is numbers on hunter retention and success.
It's an interesting idea and it sounds like something that would take the stress off newer waterfowl hunters. Then, as they harvest more animals and learn what to look for, they could gradually move towards the regular duck license.
We at Wide Open Spaces will keep an eye on this idea by South Dakota Fish and Parks and let you know how the experiment goes and if other states follow suit with this idea.