COLMAN, S.D. - Governor Kristi Noem is committed to conserving the state's outdoor traditions for the next generation. In this past legislative session, she signed House Bill 1242 into law, which redefined opossums as predators in South Dakota. That means they can be trapped without a license if you're doing it within a specific time frame. They're just one of five species that are part of the new Nest Predator Bounty Program put out by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department and Governor Noem.
It's a new tradition Dusty LeBrun started with his 4-year-old son, which is checking traps when Jack gets out of day care.
"It's fun for him. He's excited every time he gets to go check a trap," LeBrun said.
Dusty put traps out just a few days ago because he liked the idea of the Nest Predator Bounty Program.
This program is for South Dakota residents only, and they can trap five different species during nesting season which is April 1st through August 31st. No license is required.
"So by trapping them, we can thin out those predators thus increase the success of nesting for pheasant and ducks," Chad Williams said, who is a conservation officer for the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department.
This is very important for South Dakota.
"It brings in a lot of hunters from all over to come here and pheasant hunt, so it's important to the economy, important for the South Dakota residents," Williams said.
Williams said there aren't a lot of trappers, so this program helps bring awareness to it. Raccoons, opossums, fox, skunks and badgers can be trapped in South Dakota with this program. Dusty has six traps with bait in them around his house in Colman, SD.
"We're looking for raccoons and opossums. My kid really wants to catch a badger and a skunk. I don't really want to catch a skunk," he said.
"Because I've never seen a real one before," Jack LeBrun said.
But there's still some excitement when it's not a badger or a skunk for Jack. His dad is doing this for him, so he has something to do outdoors in the nice weather.
"I think it's good to get the kids outside, get them doing something better than sitting on an iPad all the time. I like to get them outside. He likes to go walking, look for tracks. It's more than just checking a trap," Dusty said.
He plans to have the traps out all summer for Jack. It's something Dusty said they actually enjoy doing together.
People will receive $10 per tail that they bring in to a Game, Fish and Parks office. There will be a $590 limit on each household, meaning you can only bring in 59 tails. The bounty program will go through August 31st unless $500,000 is given out first.
There are several laws when it comes to trapping, like residents have to check on the traps every 48 hours to see if an animal is in there if they live east of the Missouri River in South Dakota. If you're new to trapping, Game, Fish and Parks is offering Live Trapping 101 classes. You can check the GFP's website here for more information on those and any other details on the bounty program.
The state department staff also started a trapping photo contest. You can use the #SecondCenturyTrapper when posting to social media. You're encouraged to go the department's Facebook page here to find out more information.