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‘Total Warfare’ possible on open fields bill

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks sign (file photo)
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks sign (file photo)
Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 10:11 AM CST
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PIERRE (South Dakota Broadcaster’s Association) - 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 Wednesday afternoon in Pierre.

HB 1140, the “open fields” bill, was killed Tuesday 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’ early Wednesday, the South Dakota Broadcasters Association reports.

The bill itself is considered a “must win” for Gov. Kristi Noem, and Tuesday’s unanimous Judiciary Committee veto was seen as a major setback for the second floor.

Governor’s office staffers were pressing hard to get HB 1140 smoked out of committee and sent to the floor of the full Senate as early as Wednesday 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 or necessary tools to protect public wildlife.

Proponents say HB 1140 improves relationships between landowners and conservation officers.

A similar bill failed several years ago when then State Senator Larry Rhoden brought the bill with the support of many West River landowners.

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