Gov. Kristi Noem wants more youth to hunt, fish for free in South Dakota
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed House Bill 1034 into law on Thursday, which will allow more people under the age of 18 to fish, hunt and trap — no license or fee required, regardless of resident or non-resident status.
“2020 was a tremendous year for youth hunting and fishing in South Dakota, and we’re building on that for the future,” Noem said in a news release Friday morning. “The goal of this legislation is to get more young people involved in our outdoor way of life at an early age so they continue those experiences long into their adulthood.”
The new legislation simplifies and brings uniformity to youth hunting regulations, as House Bill 1034 makes it so all people under the age of 18 are considered “youth” for purposes of hunting, fishing and trapping in South Dakota. By current statute, definitions of “youth” vary greatly based on the license required.
Additional aspects of the bill will allow resident and nonresident youth to fish without a license, allow nonresident youth age 15 and under to participate in the mentored hunting program with a resident sponsor and clarify small game license and deer license requirements for youth.
The bill passed with a 56-13 vote on the House floor and had 34 legislators in favor with one excused on the Senate floor.
According to a fiscal note by the South Dakota Legislative Research Council, allowing a greater amount of youth to hunt and fish for free in South Dakota will decrease licensing revenue in the state by just over $290,000.
However, multiple representatives in the House expressed confidence that those funds 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.