- Associated Press - Friday, July 11, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - In a story July 8 about hunting licenses in South Dakota, The Associated Press erroneously stated population goals for light geese. According to the U.S. and Canadian governments, the ideal population of those birds is about 1 million in North America, not 1 million in South Dakota.

A corrected version of the story is below:

South Dakota moves to curb goose population rise

South Dakota more than doubles hunting limit to curb goose population explosion


Associated Press

South Dakota moved Tuesday to curb a goose population explosion by more than doubling the number of birds hunters can kill per day.

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission members set hunting quotas for most geese seasons as well as the antelope season. Hunting licenses are adjusted by state officials to help control wildlife populations.

Commissioners gave initial approval to a plan allowing hunters 50 light geese a day, up from 20. According to the U.S. and Canadian governments, the ideal population of these geese is about 1 million in North America, while there are currently about 15 million to 25 million.

The light geese category includes snow geese, blue geese and the smaller Ross’ geese. The large numbers of snow geese are causing problems when they migrate north. They strip vegetation and alter the soil chemistry, making it difficult for plants to replenish, said Rocco Murano, senior waterfowl biologist for the department.

Murano said the federal officials have been watching these geese since the late 1990s, coordinating efforts to reduce their numbers.

Commissioner H. Paul Dennert asked department officials if the 50 geese limit might lead to waste and whether there are other methods of population control.

“This is the first step. It may not have a real big impact on the population,” said Tony Leif, director of the Division of Wildlife in the department.

He said if the state makes this effort, other population control mechanisms may be more socially acceptable in the future.

Commissioners also gave initial approval to changes in duck licenses, which will likely allow for more blue-winged teal harvesting in the first 16 days of the season. The waterfowl proposals, including duck and light geese will be open for public comment at the commission’s August meeting, which will take place in Fort Pierre like the current meeting.

After receiving public comment Tuesday, commissioners finalized the antelope hunting season, reducing the number of resident licenses by 27 percent.

Game, Fish and Parks officials hope to increase antelope numbers in the state from around 55,000 to 68,000, give or take 15 percent. These animals, also called pronghorns, are most densely concentrated in the Northwestern part of the state. Department staff updated the state’s management plan for antelope, which commissioners are reviewing.

Plans to finalize the wild turkey hunting season were delayed, as the commission voted to make a change that requires public comment. Because the population has been declining, commissioners voted to allow 2 instead of 5 licenses per person.

Other changes already in place reduced the size of the hunting area for turkeys and shortened the season by a month.

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