Compounding Is Unlawful

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With some hunting seasons in progress and other seasons opening, South Dakotans should be aware of the criminal act called "compounding," an illegal act that can result in either a misdemeanor or felony with associated penalties.

South Dakota law 22-11-10 defines the act of compounding: Any person who accepts, offers or agrees to accept any pecuniary benefit as consideration for:

(1) Refraining from seeking prosecution of an offender; or

(2) Refraining from reporting to law enforcement authorities the commission or suspected commission of any crime or information relating to a crime, is guilty of compounding. Compounding a felony is a Class 6 felony. Compounding a misdemeanor is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

"Compounding may occur with any violation of law; however, it just so happens that in the GFP area of business, it typically occurs during the hunting seasons," said Game, Fish and Parks Law Enforcement Program Administrator Dave McCrea. "What happens in most cases is a private landowner will catch a person trespassing and then offer the violator the opportunity to pay the landowner a ‘trespass fee’ so the landowner will not contact law enforcement. Conversely, a violator may offer to pay the landowner a ‘trespass fee’ so the landowner will not contact law enforcement. This offer or acceptance of money by either party not to contact law enforcement constitutes the criminal act of compounding."

According to McCrea, the vast majority of private landowners who apprehend a trespasser or other wildlife violator on their property act lawfully and contact their local conservation officer or sheriff’s office to report the violation.

"In order to protect the landowner from possibly incurring a charge of compounding, it is important that the landowner understand that he or she should neither offer nor accept any offer of money when dealing with a wildlife-related violation on their property." McCrea explained. "The best and safest course of action is to contact law enforcement and let them investigate the matter."

For information to contact GFP offices, visit the department’s website directly at