It was near Edgemont last spring when Sen. Mark Kirkeby drew his pistol and broke the law.
“I did not hesitate,” Kirkeby told a legislative committee Monday morning. “I pulled over, I did pull out my pistol, and I did put her out of her misery. I thought it was the humane thing to do. I had no idea that I violated the law.”
The recipient of Kirkeby’s gunshot was a badly injured deer, struck by a pickup truck. And while no one has ever been prosecuted for it, euthanizing an injured deer isn’t allowed under current South Dakota law.
Until, at least, House Bill 1144’s probable passage.
That measure, which passed the Senate Transportation committee Monday morning, would legalize the euthanization of deer and antelope that have been “seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident.”
If the full Senate approves the bill, the House will have to accept Senate amendments or negotiate a compromise. If both houses approve the same version of the bill, it would then go to Gov. Dennis Daugaard to be signed into law.
“What sense does it make to prevent the euthanization of a crippled deer?” asked Rep. Peggy Gibson, D-Huron. “House Bill 1144 does not require anyone to really do anything that he or she is not willing or capable of doing.”
A representative of the state Department of Game, Fish & Parks was present but did not testify for or against the bill. The representative, Tony Leif, said the department would endorse Kirkeby’s actions shooting the injured deer — and those of Reps. Charlie Hoffman and Betty Olson, who also admitted to euthanizing injured wildlife.
The committee amended the bill at Sen. Jeff Monroe’s request, removing the petty offense for people who fail to report a euthanized deer.
Sen. David Omdahl, R-Sioux Falls, voted no, saying the measure seemed fine for rural areas but dangerous in or near cities.