Critical to Wildlife Conservation
Since the earliest days of statehood, conservation officers have carried out their enforcement responsibilities through the use of compliance checks here in South Dakota. These informal contacts with hunters and anglers in the field provide the public with assurance that laws and regulations established by the South Dakota Legislature and Game, Fish and Parks Commission are being followed.
By Game, Fish and Parks Policy, conservation officers are allowed to go onto private land to conduct compliance checks in "open fields" only when they have visible evidence that hunting or fishing is actually occurring. Compliance checks provide a critically important deterrent to anyone who might consider violating the wildlife laws of the state. Without the ability to make personal contact with a hunter or angler in the field, it would be all but impossible for a conservation officer to know if that person had the proper license, was abiding by the bag limits, or was adhering to the numerous other restrictions enacted to protect and manage wildlife for the citizens of our state.
Wildlife is a
"public trust resource"
Wildlife is owned in common by ALL the citizens of our state, whether that wildlife is found on public or private land. Our Legislature acts as trustee for this valuable resource.
Conservation officers, working under the mandates of the Legislature, work to protect the public's interest in our wildlife resources through the use of compliance checks, investigations and other conservation law enforcement actions. They do this under authority and constraints set forth by the United States Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court, the State Constitution, the State Legislature and State courts. The officers ensure they adhere to these authorities and constraints under guidance provided by the State Attorney General's Office and self-imposed, Game, Fish and Parks policy.