June 21, 2022

Predator Hunting Will Soon Be Safer and More Effective in South Dakota

Contact: Bob Matthews, Senior Coordinator, Upper Midwestern States

Why It Matters: Modern night-vision scopes and binoculars produce clear images that allow hunters to reliably identify targets. Although South Dakotans were already permitted to hunt predators on public lands at night, they were not permitted to use night-vision devices, which hindered their ability to hunt predators as safely and effectively as possible. Soon, South Dakota hunters will be able enjoy their public land without these unnecessary restrictions, thanks to the passage of a recent bill.

Predator hunting will become safer in South Dakota on July 1, 2022, when Senate Bill 73 takes effect. The bill, signed by Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Kristi Noem back in March, amends an existing law to allow hunters to use artificial lights and night-vision equipment when attempting to take coyotes and other predators. Under the law’s previous language, hunters in South Dakota were permitted to take predators on public land between sunset and sunrise but without the aid of night-vision technology. Recognizing that this restriction created unnecessary safety risks, the South Dakota legislature passed SB 73, which will instead permit hunters to utilize night-vision equipment while taking predators after sunset on public land outside of big-game hunting seasons.

Multiple states throughout the country do not allow night-vision devices to be used in hunting at all. These states are primarily concerned that hunters using such devices will misidentify what is in their sights. However, through years of technological advancement, night-vision scopes and binoculars have evolved to produce clear, high quality digital images instead of the grainier images produced by early generations of devices. With these advancements, night-vision technology has become a safe and necessary tool that hunters can rely on when exercising their right to hunt at night. In addition to extending the ability to use night vision while hunting public land, the bill also removed a restriction on private landowners, which had previously only permitted the use of night vision devices on private land if the hunting party was a certain size.

Through SB 73, the South Dakota legislature has removed these restrictions so that South Dakota’s many sportsmen and women can enjoy the technology at their disposal to safely take coyotes and other predators after sunset. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation strives to secure sportsmen and women’s ability to safely hunt on public land, which is exactly what this bill achieved.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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