More youth could hunt, fish for free if legislature revises outdoors regulations
A bill that would revise hunting requirements for youths has been passed by a majority vote in the South Dakota House of Representatives.
If passed in the Senate and signed into law by Gov. Kristi Noem, more people under the age of 18 could fish, hunt and trap — no license or fee required, regardless of resident or non-resident status.
When children get “involved in hunting and trapping at an early age...we’ve then got a hunter, a fisherman and a trapper for the next 40 years,” Lynn Schneider, R-Huron, said.
The bill, which passed 56-13, could make it so that all people under the age of 18 would be considered “youth” for purposes of hunting, fishing and trapping in South Dakota. Currently, those definitions vary greatly based on the license required.
According to a fiscal note requested by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, the state would lose approximately $100,000 from in-state youth licenses and about $200,000 from non-resident youth licenses.
However, multiple House members expressed confidence on Thursday that those losses would be made up for in continued spending from out-of-state hunters and their families, as well as future licenses as youth hunters grow up and continue to seek South Dakota for hunting purposes.
Throughout the years, adding additional hunting opportunities and seasons for young people has created licensure complexities that can be difficult to understand for both adults and children alike, according to Tom Kirschenmann, the director of wildlife for South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks.
“We (GFP) see and we hear stories where individuals don’t even participate because they just can’t figure out how it works,” Kirschenmann said of hunting licenses at the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee meeting on Jan. 21.
The bill would also eliminate two licenses, including the junior combination license for fishing and small game hunting, which is required for people ages 16-18, as well as the non-resident family fishing license.
Currently, requirements for various hunting licenses based on age are as follows:
Fur-bearing: residents less than 16 years old can trap for free. Those ages 16 years and older must purchase an adult license.
Fishing: residents less than 16 years old can fish for free. Those ages 16-18 require a junior combination license. At age 19, residents must purchase an adult license.
Small game: Both residents and non-residents ages 12 to 15 require a youth small game license. Those ages 16 to 18 require a junior combination license. Those 19 and older require an adult license.
Deer hunting: Both residents and non-residents ages 12 to 15 require an antlerless license, but those ages 16 and older require an adult license.