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By Todd Epp South Dakota Broadcasters Association.
By Todd Epp South Dakota Broadcasters Association

License qualification bill passes through committee

PIERRE, S.D. (SDBA) — Legislators are considering a bill about who qualifies for a South Dakota hunting, fishing, or trapping license.
SB54 passed 13 to 0 in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in another legislative step this morning (Tuesday).
The South Dakota Game, Fish, and Park’s chief law enforcement officer, Sam Schelhaas, testified before the committee. He said there are tens of thousands of resident applications for elk and bighorn sheep. He says legitimate South Dakota residents should have the opportunity to win those licenses.
“Unfortunately, we do have some non-residents that do try to claim resident status for the sole purpose of obtaining some of these licenses,” Schelhaas said. Some of these big game licenses are highly coveted. They’re difficult to get.”
Schelhaas said they get over 47,000 instate applications for 1,800 elk tags. For the ten bighorn sheep tags, they get over 18,000 resident applications.
The new law would require a person to live in South Dakota for 185 days as one indicator of South Dakota residency. Simply having a mailbox, owning property, or owning a business is insufficient to grant residency for game licenses.
If passed, the bill could negatively impact so-called “mailbox people” with a South Dakota address, according to Schelhaas. Many of these people own recreational vehicles.
“The majority of those probably do not qualify to begin with,” Schelhaas said. If you look at what our residency requirements are, you would need to be here for 90 days immediately. Yeah, they may have the steps of a driver’s license or a motor vehicle, but the majority of those folks do not even qualify for resident privileges.”
He said another dodge is for out-of-staters to buy a cheap house in a small South Dakota town and claim it as their residence.
The bill has 11 exemptions for qualifying for a resident game license. These include, for example, South Dakotans who attend college out of state, members of the military stationed in South Dakota, and residents of Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals.
According to Schelhaas, the bill would not impact residency requirements for voting and driver’s licenses.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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