South Dakota Habitat Stamp Would Generate Additional Money for Conservation

Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager

Though the vast majority of conservation efforts are funded by hunters, anglers, recreational shooters and trappers through the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding, many fish and wildlife agencies are looking for ways to generate additional revenues for conservation efforts to improve fish and wildlife populations that benefit sportsmen and women. The South Dakota State Legislature is currently considering a bill that would establish a new stamp to provide an estimated $5.7 million each year in additional funding for habitat conservation and improved access for hunters and anglers.   

Co-sponsored by South Dakota Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Herman Otten, Senate Bill 75 would create a habitat stamp that “a person eighteen years of age or older shall purchase…when applying for or purchasing a hunting or fishing license. The fee for the habitat stamp shall be ten dollars for residents and twenty-five dollars for non-residents.” Any person required to possess a hunting or fishing license may not fish, hunt, or trap without a stamp validation, though only one state habitat stamp would be required during a license year. Additionally, the purchase of the habitat stamp would not be required for the one-day hunting or fishing license, youth hunting license, private shooting preserve license, Hunt for Habitat application fee, or landowner hunting license. 

The bill also stipulates that, “all revenue collected from the sale of the habitat stamp…shall be deposited in the game, fish and parks fund for the purposes of enhancing terrestrial habitat on public lands, providing additional public access to private lands and aquatic habitat enhancements on public waters. All fees collected from persons who only purchase fishing licenses shall be used solely for aquatic habitat and access projects in public waters. All fees collected from persons who only purchase hunting or trapping licenses shall be used solely for terrestrial habitat and public access programs. All fees collected from persons that purchase privileges to fish and hunt, or trap shall be extended equally for aquatic and terrestrial habitat.” 

This habitat stamp, although another fee on sportsmen and women, is a small price to pay for the extensive habitat work that will result from its creation. It also emphasizes the role sportsmen and women continue to play in the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and how the public benefits from their contributions. This bill passed the Senate on February 5, the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources on February 25 and is currently on its second reading before the House as a whole.

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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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