Legislative committee addresses qualifications for hunting, fishing, trapping licenses

January 23, 2024

PIERRE, S.D.–In a unanimous vote of 13-to-0, the South Dakota House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee approved SB54, a bill addressing the state’s qualifications for hunting, fishing, or trapping licenses.

Proponents say the legislation aims to protect the opportunities for legitimate South Dakota residents to obtain licenses amid concerns about non-residents falsely claiming resident status.

Sam Schelhaas, chief law enforcement officer of the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks, testified that there are many resident applications for elk and bighorn sheep, with limited available licenses. The proposed law introduces a residency requirement of 185 days, emphasizing that simply having a mailbox, owning property, or running a business is insufficient for game license residency.

Schelhaas highlighted challenges with individuals, known as “mailbox people,” who own recreational vehicles and may not meet residency criteria. The bill includes 11 exemptions, such as allowances for South Dakotans attending out-of-state colleges, military members stationed in South Dakota, and residents of Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals.

Notably, the bill won’t impact residency requirements for voting and driver’s licenses. The legislation now advances to the Senate for further consideration.