South Dakota’s “open fields” bill may not be dead yet

March 3, 2021 

PIERRE, S.D.– A bill to ban state Game, Fish and Parks officers from entering onto private lands is likely to be revived on the floor of the State Senate this afternoon in Pierre.

House Bill 1140, the ‘open fields’ bill, was killed yesterday before a Senate committee despite having the strong support of the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Senate Majority Leader.

A battle to revive the bill began immediately after the committee adjourned Tuesday and has now turned into what one insider called ‘total warfare.’

Governor’s Office staffers were pressing hard to get the bill smoked out of committee and sent to the floor of the full Senate as early as this afternoon.

They appear to have enough votes to have the bill called and a major battle is imminent.

Opponents of the bill label it as a ‘poachers bill’ saying it strips state GF&P officers of the necessary tools to protect public wildlife.

Proponents say it will improve relationships between landowners and conservation officers.