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While South Dakota is looking to spend more money on conservation and increase the pheasant and other wildlife populations in the state – others are questioning the amount being spent on such efforts.

Gov. Mark Dayton has recently stated that millions of state taxpayers’ money will be spent on pheasant conservation in the state of Minnesota. His action plan includes the enhancement and protection of nine square miles of habitat. 40% of this will be permanently protected within four years.

Those in the state have questioned whether the investment in a bird that isn’t on the endangered species list and isn’t related to a major state economy like in South Dakota is worth the financial investment.

While critics admit that more pheasants will discourage Gopher state hunters to stay in Minnesota rather than go hunting in South Dakota, there is little benefit and limited chance of attracting non-resident hunters.

Still, without the funds, critics have highlighted that roadside counts have demonstrated a 33% increase in the state’s pheasant population from last year.

In contrast however, the numbers for the 2015 roadside survey were 39% lower than the 10 year average and 59% below the long-term average. Without proper investment, could pheasants find themselves on the endangered list? If this is the case, would it not be more costly to conserve their population when endangered rather than doing it now?

Other ideas included in the plans include:

·         Increase the enrolment and retention of private lands for short-term conservation programs.

·         Accelerate acquisition of land to increase public hunting land across the state.

·         Improvements to roadside management.

Critics have said that the proposals don’t include any costs and that any funds used could be wasted.

Yet there has been some move recently to make more habitat for wildlife. Legislation was passed to establish vegetation buffers along rivers, streams and ditches to help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment.  Funds have also been used by the DNR and private groups to improve grassland habitat protection and management. These have all contributed to improved local habitats for pheasants and other wildlife. The question the state now asks is: how much more will be needed?

Do you think the funds are worth it? Would you spend the money on conservation?

Let us know in the comments.

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