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28

The sage grouse has been an intriguing part of the upland bird hunting tradition for years.

South Dakota has been one of the states where sage grouse have been fairly common in the. As with any other bird species there have been up years and down years.

The last few, however, have been down years and the trend in the sage grouse population has led to a decision to potentially cancel the sage grouse hunting season in South Dakota.

There was only a short season last year with 35 hunters taking 9 birds. So the loss of the season would not be felt greatly by upland bird hunters in the region.

The panel in the state chose unanimously to propose the cancellation for the sake of the birds, but also to protect the landowners in the area where the birds are found.

The federal government has been looking at placing the sage grouse on the endangered species list for some time. Doing so would put pressure on landowners to meet regulations. If a bird or group of birds were to find a home on a landowner’s property it would mean full protection of the habitat.

That means the likely loss of income for the landowner should they want to plant crops by taking down the brush where the birds make their home.

There are a few birds in the area that are on the list and it’s caused issues for landowners in the past. Dealing with another endangered species would be a challenge for landowners.

Putting the hunt on hold this season and beyond would help keep the birds alive while also giving them a chance to take their own course at surviving in the wild.

Obviously there are pressures on the birds other than hunting. We’ve been discussing the pressure on landowners to plant corn and beans. The oil in North Dakota has also added pressure.

Hopefully there is some habitat left over for the sage grouse and other upland birds.

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