MOBRDIGE, S.D. — South Dakota’s Game, Fish and Parks Commission has rejected a request by two hunting groups to restrict the area where out-of-state residents can hunt waterfowl.

The South Dakota Wildlife Federation and the South Dakota Waterfowl Association had asked the commission to invalidate 2,000 three-day nonresident licenses. The groups maintained that the Legislature’s approved expansions of hunting territory for nonresidents are a violation of the residents’ hunting rights.

While lawmakers said expanding the hunting ground to nonresidents would boost rural economies, they also said there were too many unused restrictive three-day licenses.

The Argus Leader newspaper reported ( ) that the commission voted 7-0 on Thursday to leave the legislative changes in place. The commission’s attorney advised the wildlife groups that it didn’t have the authority to override state lawmakers and the governor.

George Vandel, vice president of the South Dakota Waterfowl Association, said the group did not expect to win but still brought the petition to draw attention to the issue.

“We’re not surprised,” he said. “This is one of those really difficult things. It’s been a difficult thing since the 1940s, long before I was around.”

The issue of extending waterfowl hunting rights to nonresidents has been disputed for years.

Bill Koupal, a board member of the South Dakota Waterfowl Association said he appreciated that the commission did not dismiss the groups’ concerns.

“They certainly didn’t look at this and say, ‘This is a ridiculous issue,'” Koupal said.

According to Koupal, the wildlife groups intend to push for a legislative repeal of the licenses next session.

Information from: Argus Leader,