- Associated Press - Thursday, December 18, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A survey has found that most South Dakota deer hunters aren’t convinced that changes are needed to the state’s deer licensing system.

More than 4,100 hunters completed the survey conducted by the Game, Fish and Parks Department, the Capital Journal (https://bit.ly/1wlAmao ) reported. At least 40 percent of respondents said they supported keeping the current system, while more than 30 percent said they had no opinion on the matter. At least 25 percent supported the idea of making changes.

The Game, Fish and Parks Commission viewed the survey as the first significant step toward making a change in the way the state allocates its deer licenses. The move was in response to concerns raised during a commission meeting in July over a reduced hunter success in the weighted deer license lottery.

Deer numbers have been declining in recent years, leading to far fewer licenses being made available.

Some members of the commission found the results of the survey disappointing.

“I think we were all looking for a little more direction,” said commissioner Scott Phillips, of Rapid City.

About 92 percent of hunters expect to be drawn for their preferred license every year, the survey determined.

“Lo and behold, a majority of deer hunters want to get a license every year,” said Wildlife Division Director Tony Leif. “But the way we proposed to do it doesn’t look like the best way to go about it.”

The surveyed hunters were asked to vote on proposals either to pick one or two licenses for the first drawing. Neither option garnered more than 39 percent approval nor 38 percent disapproval.

Commissioner Barry Jensen said the survey was “pretty neutral” and no one was really happy about it.

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Information from: Pierre Capital Journal, https://www.capjournal.com

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