February 08, 2012
If you ask any South Dakota farmer, they'll tell you how destructive muskrats can be. Nasty little pests, they'll say, no better than any diseased rodent you might find scurrying around.
For that very reason, South Dakota lawmakers have introduced legislation that would allow muskrat hunting. According to the Aberdeen News, Rep. Dennis Feickert, D-Aberdeen, sponsored House Bill 1117, which would allow state residents to shoot muskrats.
Supporters say the bill would not only alleviate the pest situation on farms and roads, but of course, there is some opposition, though it's not coming from some animal rights group weeping bitter tears for the noble muskrat.
The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department claims the muskrat problem is a temporary vexation caused by excessive flooding; in time, the muskrat population should naturally drop. At any rate, the GFP already issues special kill permits for problem muskrats, so the bill itself is redundant.
Another unlikely criticism comes from the South Dakota Trappers Association, which says while pelts are in high demand, they aren't valuable if the animal has been shot.
If the bill is passed, it will mean open season for the muskrat, and if it doesn't, South Dakota farmers and the like can hope the population drops enough to where the muskrat (or marsh rabbit as it's often described when discussed as tablefare) is no longer a nuisance meriting legislation.