A South Dakota hunter walks the tall grass with his dog.

Out-of-state hunters help private landowners provide wildlife habitat

BY: - November 27, 2023

A disgruntled hunter wrote a Writers on the Range opinion recently about Westerners getting fed up with the many out-of-staters coming in and buying up draw licenses to shoot bull elk, deer, bear and other big game animals. As a hunter myself, I understand their frustration. But reducing non-resident tags, as Andrew Carpenter suggests, takes […]

Trail camera footage shows river otters swimming in the Big Sioux River watershed.

From threatened to managed population: Fourth river otter trapping season concludes

BY: - November 20, 2023

The state’s fourth river otter trapping season ended last weekend when the legal limit of 20 was reached. That season was unimaginable only a few decades ago when river otters were all but non-existent in South Dakota.  The Game, Fish and Parks Department said Saturday that trappers holding a furbearer license had to report their […]

Prairie grass sways in the wind in western South Dakota. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

Three SD projects receive a combined $51 million for climate-smart agriculture

BY: - November 11, 2023

A land trust, state university and conservation group will receive a combined total of $51 million in federal funding to incentivize “climate-smart” agriculture in South Dakota.  The biggest grant went to Ducks Unlimited, a hunter-led organization focused on habitat conservation. It was awarded $25 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to restore over 25,000 […]

Game, Fish and Parks Secretary Kevin Robling and the GF&P Commission meet on Nov. 2, 2023, in Madison. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

Tourism and fairness concerns delay decision on fishing-license oddity

BY: - November 2, 2023

MADISON — It’s still cheaper for visitors from other states to buy three one-day South Dakota fishing licenses than one three-day license, at least for now. Amid debates about tourism and the fairness of fees for in-state anglers vs. out-of-staters, the Game, Fish and Parks Commission postponed its anticipated vote Thursday in Madison on the […]

Millions of grassland acres lost in Great Plains, new research report says

BY: - October 26, 2023

The Great Plains lost 1.6 million acres of grasslands in 2021. That’s according to a World Wildlife Fund report released on Thursday, detailing the loss of grasslands in the U.S. and Canadian Great Plains. From 2012 to 2021, grassland conversion in the Great Plains totaled 32 million acres, or 50,000 square miles.  The Plowprint report […]

(John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

South Dakota ranks fourth in payments from conservation program

BY: - October 17, 2023

South Dakotans are the fourth largest recipients this year from a federal program that pays agricultural landowners to keep environmentally sensitive land out of production, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Conservation Reserve Program has sent $129.5 million to South Dakotans. That trails Iowa ($402.5 million), Illinois ($172.7 million) and Minnesota ($150.8 million). […]

A beaver at Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin. (Larry Palmer/USFWS)

Are beavers always the answer? Not everywhere.

BY: - October 14, 2023

Beavers, through their assiduous dam building, can recharge groundwater and provide habitat for fish and wildlife. In the Pacific Northwest, for example, managers are bringing back beaver as part of trout and salmon management. “God bless beavers and their industrious nature,” writes Trout Unlimited’s Idaho-based Chris Hunt in Hatch magazine. “They make habitat for the […]

A duck hunter sits amid cattails and reeds along a publicly conserved wetland south of Madison. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

State launches efforts to fight duck-hunting decline and protect habitat

BY: - September 18, 2023

State officials are embarking on a comprehensive plan to boost duck-hunter numbers that have been declining for two decades, and to preserve waterfowl habitat in the process. The plan focuses on providing better access for hunters. It’s a joint venture between the South Dakota Wildlife Federation, the South Dakota Waterfowl Association, and the state’s Department […]

Members of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission hear testimony during a meeting Sept. 7, 2023, in Watertown. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

Commission denies expanded hound hunting for mountain lions after hundreds of comments

BY: - September 7, 2023

WATERTOWN — After receiving hundreds of written public comments, the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission denied a proposal Thursday that would have allowed the use of dogs to hunt mountain lions in a broader area of the Black Hills.  However, the commission directed the Department of Game, Fish and Parks to reassess its mountain […]

Pheasants Forever launches new initiative to expand outdoor access in South Dakota

BY: - August 23, 2023

In an effort to enhance public outdoor access and support long-term land conservation, Pheasants Forever has unveiled a new program targeting 10,000 acres of land in South Dakota annually. The new Public Access to Habitat (PATH) initiative aims to complement the current South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Walk-In Area program, which pays landowners about […]

Grass waves in the western South Dakota wind. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

South Dakota ranks third in federal grassland conservation sign-ups

BY: - July 22, 2023

Only two states enrolled more land than South Dakota in the most recent sign-up period for a federal grassland conservation program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grassland Conservation Reserve Program pays farmers to convert or keep environmentally sensitive agricultural land as grassland for 10 to 15 years. Unlike the USDA’s standard Conservation Reserve Program, the […]

Farming carbon: Farm bill presents opportunity to unite farmers, climate activists

BY: - June 23, 2023

IDEAL — On the rolling plains southwest of Chamberlain lies a 30-square-mile farm and ranch that serves as a testament to the power of soil health practices. Bryan Jorgensen has devoted his life to nurturing the soil and maintaining the ecological balance on his family’s land. Jorgensen said the practices not only improve his yields […]