- Associated Press - Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, July 16, 2014

Help GF&P; find deer solution

On the heels of huge reductions in antlerless deer licenses in South Dakota, the state Game, Fish & Parks Department is reviewing its system for allocating deer hunting licenses for the 2015 seasons.

Deer populations in the state have dropped dramatically in recent years, and the GF&P; is struggling to find ways to help the deer rebound while satisfying the hunting demand by sportsmen. Meanwhile, hunters are reporting fewer successful hunts.

The Wildlife Division of the state GF&P; will survey the 66,000 hunters who applied for a license in 2013, with results timed for the commission’s December meeting and before the state Legislature convenes in January 2015.

Among the changes under consideration are limiting the number of licenses that hunters can apply for - some hunters apply for all the licenses that are available, including East River, West River, Black Hills and Custer State Park firearms, muzzleloader and archery seasons - while many hunters fail to receive the buck license that they want. The revised system would give hunters a better chance of getting the license they prefer. The GF&P; may also reduce the number of licenses that are set aside for landowners.

The GF&P;’s proposal comes after it announced significant reductions in antlerless deer licenses this year. While the Black Hills region is not seeing significant cuts, East River antlerless-only licenses will drop by 59 percent and West River antlerless-only licenses will be reduced by 86 percent with no licenses for mule deer.

Wildlife biologists believe that limiting antlerless licenses will help the state’s deer herds to recover. Diseases and a significant shift in agricultural land from conservation reserve to farmland have reduced deer populations in much of the state.

Hunting is an important lifestyle for many South Dakotans. A recent U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service survey found that South Dakota was No. 1 in the nation in percentage of residents who hunted and fished.

We like the idea of the GF&P; surveying hunters for their views on how deer licenses should be allocated. Since much of the GF&P;’s income comes from hunting licenses, getting input from their “customers” is a good idea.

Maintaining the health of the state’s deer herd should be a priority for the GF&P.; We believe the state’s sportsmen should support the GF&P; in finding the best solution to declining deer populations, even if it means issuing fewer licenses and changing how hunting licenses are allocated.

___

Press & Dakotan, Yankton, July 14, 2014

Highway Funding: The Clouds And The Road Ahead

Officials from South Dakota’s Department of Transportation (DOT) were in Yankton recently discussing some of the projects they have in the pipeline for this part of the state.

Story Continues →