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It was revealed this week by Watchdog, after an open records request, that $600,000 has been paid by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited as part of a conservation partnership.

The money has gone towards the funding of employees who work with the Natural Resources Conservation service on conservation projects. According to records, Pheasants Forever has received over $505,000 since 2010 to fund their salaries.

Lawmakers and agricultural groups have argued that Pheasants Forever’s political campaign to divert hundreds of millions in oil tax revenue into a conservation fund should disqualify them from partnering with the federal government.

Senator Terry Wanzek, a Jamestown Republican, has stated that he is surprised and feels that the funds should not be diverted to Pheasants Forever or Ducks Unlimited. Despite carrying the Game and Fish Department’s budget to the senate floor earlier this year and dealing with it extensively with the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Terry Wanzek states he was unaware of the payments.

There are numerous others who have complained about the payments being made to the group. These individuals include:

·         Dan Wogsland, executive director of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association.

·         Pete Hannebut, the public policy director, North Dakota Farm Bureau.

·         Representative Mike Brandenburg.

But the payments have been defended by some. Kevin Kading, a Private Lands Section Leader for the Game and Fish Department, has stated that the coordinated efforts are there to help private landowners with voluntary conservation programs and that the general fund tax dollars aren’t used to make the payments.

According to Kevin Kading, the primary resource for the funds comes from licensing sales from hunters and federal excise from hunting related equipment. However, this has sparked another debate on whether deer hunters are happy with their licensing money being spent on conservation efforts for ducks and pheasants.

Some fear that this announcement could see some further scrutiny from lawmakers.

What is your take on the announcement? Do you see anything wrong with the spending of the money?

Let us know in the comments below.

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