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Conservation Notes: The Issue with Bounties

Sportsmen know from decades of in the field experience and scientific studies that when habitat is abundant, so are the game animals. Recently, three and a half million acres of CRP in North Dakota resulted in record numbers of white-tailed deer, pheasants, and waterfowl, resulting in very productive hunting.

When amount of habitat declines, populations of game animals also decline and there are fewer animals to hunt. Often predators get the blame and there are demands for bounties. This is happening in South Dakota. Despite objections from their pheasant biologists, the South Dakota legislature was pressured into implementing a bounty on predators due to decreasing numbers of pheasants. The bounty program will cost over $500,000 annually and take a significant amount of time to administer. Many scientific studies show that bounties on predators don’t increase game population. They are expensive, divert needed funds from useful habitat programs, and do not significantly increase numbers of game animals.

Bounties on predators are not supported as a wildlife management tool by wildlife biologists and managers. Instead of wasting money and time on bounties, those resources should be allocated to increasing the amount of quality habitat. When habitat is abundant, game species and indeed all wildlife are abundant.


For more information on this message or other conservation topics, contact: Mike McEnroe, Past President, North Dakota Wildlife Federation, (memcenroe@midco.net) or Rick Nelson, Past President, North Dakota Chapter, The Wildlife Society, bluebill@bis.midco.net).

The North Dakota Wildlife Federation is a grassroots organization, which protects and enhances North Dakota's wildlife, wildlife habitat and access to that habitat. NDWF promotes hunting, fishing, trapping and other wildlife related activities through education, programs, and on the ground projects. 

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