Earlier this month, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks (GFP) started a controversial program that is paying residents of all ages, including children, to kill animals.
The GFP says their new Nest Predator Bounty Program was designed to help preserve nests of ducks and pheasants, bring more participation, awareness, and education to trapping, along with encouraging the youth to spend more time outside and in nature.
The program pays 10 dollars for every tail of a raccoon, striped skunk, opossum, badger or red fox that is submitted. It also states that road kill is not eligible, which ensures that participants will themselves be trapping and killing the animals allowed for submission.
Governor Kristi Noem made a Facebook post voicing her excitement that kids are outdoors as a result of the program, and persuading children to get out the house more. The same post also shows a young girl smiling as she crouches over a dead raccoon.
Although they claim this program is meant to benefit the public, the violence and killing is unnecessary. There are humane resolutions to trapping and preservation that don’t encourage violence from the youth.
While it is critical to encourage children to enjoy the outdoors, they should not be motivated by a price tag on the life of an animal. Unfortunately this is not the first program that allows this either.
This is reminiscent of the squirrel hunt in New Jersey that teaches children to hunt and skin squirrels. Children should be taught to respect wildlife and an animal’s right to live freely in nature, not at our pleasure or convenience.
The program started on April 1 and is set to end on August 31 unless the $500,000 cap is reached prior to that date. There is, however, another way to end the program early that will also put an end to the painful and unnecessary death of innocent animals.
This article was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 18 Apr 2019.