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November 7, 2005

New Online Volunteer Antlerless Deer Hunter Program Available

PIERRE, S.D. - An opportunity for hunters interested in hunting antlerless deer to list their names and contact information online has been added to the state Game, Fish and Parks website.

"Several times a year, GFP staff are contacted by landowners looking to host antlerless deer hunters," said Wildlife Damage Management Program Administrator Art Smith. "Usually, the landowners are looking for youth hunters, but requests for archery and muzzleloader hunters have been received as well. In previous years, staff handled much of these requests. Now, this program allows the landowners to directly contact potential hunters."

Youth, archery antlerless and muzzleloader deer hunters who are looking for private land to hunt antlerless deer can add their names, contact information and up to three counties that they are interested in hunting to a web-based list. That list can then be accessed by landowners who will directly contact the hunters. The landowners will be able to choose which license types they will allow and note in which county their land is located. Once selected, the system produces a list of hunters that matches the landowner's selection.

Smith hopes this program can answer a question hunters ask GFP each year, "Where can I find private lands to hunt antlerless deer?" and another question asked by landowners, "I am looking for a youth deer hunter to hunt my lands, do you know of anyone?"

"We still believe the best way to develop hunter/landowner relationships is through knocking on doors and talking with people," Smith noted. "However, we also realize that times have changed and hope this program will help make those initial contacts easier."

The webpage can be accessed under the "What's New" section of the GFP home page at www.state.sd.us/gfp/ or via the department's deer webpage at www.sdgfp.info/Wildlife/hunting/BigGame/DeerIndex.htm.

-GFP-

First CWD Update For 2005

PIERRE, S.D. - Two deer have tested positive in South Dakota's 2005 Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Surveillance Program.

The Department of Game, Fish and Parks has been testing deer and elk from hunters, vehicle kills and sick animals encountered in the field. Currently, 595 results have returned from the 820 total samples submitted, with two deer testing positive for CWD.

"The two deer that tested positive were both collected by Game Fish and Parks personnel that are on the watch for sick deer and elk," said Game, Fish and Parks Wildlife Biologist Steve Griffin of Rapid City. "Both of these deer were found very emaciated and thin, which are symptoms of CWD.

Griffin noted that Black Hills deer hunters and West River prairie deer hunters in predetermined surveillance areas will have an opportunity to participate in the CWD Surveillance Program as their respective seasons open this fall.

As in past years, GFP is conducting a CWD surveillance program in areas where CWD has been detected in captive animals, and/or in wild free-roaming populations of deer and elk. Surveillance is being concentrated in the southwestern part of South Dakota, which includes Fall River County, Custer County, parts of Pennington County and the Black Hills.

"The samples are being collected from hunters who were contacted prior to hunting seasons and asked to voluntarily submit the heads of their harvested animals for testing," Griffin said. "This year's samples are being sent to the South Dakota State University (SDSU) Diagnostic Laboratory in Brookings, and results are getting returned faster than in the past."

Griffin noted that all hunters who submitted a sample will receive a letter with the results of the CWD test as soon as possible after the results are delivered to him. "We try and get them out on a weekly basis if possible," he said.

Hunters outside the testing area may get their animal tested for chronic wasting disease by making their own arrangements directly through the SDSU Diagnostic Lab at (605) 688-5171.

For questions regarding the South Dakota CWD Surveillance Program, call the Rapid City Regional Office at (605) 394-2391.

-GFP-

Activities Abound In State Parks This Winter

PIERRE, S.D. - Winter may be almost here, but many visitors to South Dakota state parks are discovering that there is no reason to hibernate. Many opportunities for fun exist in the parks year-round, even after the snow falls.

During the winter season, many summer and fall hikers take up cross-country skiing. Twelve state parks and recreation areas offer cross-country ski trails. Trails are found at: Adams Homestead in North Sioux City, Big Sioux in Brandon, Hartford Beach near Milbank, Lake Herman near Madison, Mickelson Trail in the Black Hills, Newton Hills near Canton, Oakwood Lakes near Volga, Pelican Lake near Watertown, Richmond Lake near Aberdeen, Roy Lake near Lake City, Sica Hollow near Sisseton and West Whitlock near Gettysburg.

Snowmobilers can take advantage of trail riding opportunities across the state. Snowmobile trails in eastern South Dakota will open Dec. 1. Grooming operations along the 325-mile Black Hills system will begin Dec. 15. To request a detailed map, e-mail [email protected] or call (605) 773-3391.

A trip to the park can also include snowshoeing, ice-skating, hunting, ice fishing or a leisurely walk in the brisk winter air.

In addition to day activities, plenty of opportunities exist for those wanting to stay overnight. Campsites are now on a first-come, first-served basis. Electricity is kept on year-round, but water systems and comfort stations are closed during the winter. As a result, camping fees are reduced. Fees are collected at self-registration stations located at park entrances, where fee envelopes and instructions are provided.

For those a bit less daring, camping cabins provide heated protection from the elements. Camping cabins are found at state parks and recreation areas across the state. Each of the one-room, log-style cabins has heating, air-conditioning and electricity. Furnishings include a set of bunk beds, double bed, table and benches. A fire grate and picnic table are located outside. Campers will need to provide linens or sleeping bags. The can be reserved through the reservation system within 90 days of arrival at www.CampSD.com or by calling (800) 710-CAMP (2267).

If you are gathering a group together, three recreation areas have lodges to suit your needs:

Mina Lake Recreation Area near Aberdeen features a three-bedroom group lodge that sleeps eight.
Shadehill Recreation Area near Lemmon has a two-bedroom lodge that sleeps up to ten.
Lake Thompson Recreation Area's five-bedroom lodge sleeps 12 people.
Like the cabins, linens are not provided. The lodges at Mina Lake and Shadehill rent for $110 a night. The lodge at Lake Thompson is $175 per night. A fee of $15 will be charged for each additional person. Reservations can be made year-round through the reservation system at www.CampSD.com or by calling (800) 710-CAMP (2267).

Park entrance licenses are required year-round in all designated fees areas. The 2006 park entrance license is now available online and at park offices, and is valid until May 2007.

More information on winter activities and camping in South Dakota state parks can be found online at www.sdgfp.info/Parks by clicking on "Outdoor Recreation."

-GFP-

Feeding Winter Birds Popular

PIERRE, S.D. - Game, Fish and Parks officials say feeding wild birds is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the U.S., with participants of all ages.

Fifty-four million people feed birds or other wildlife near their homes, spending $2.6 billion on bird feed alone. "One doesn't need a license or any special skills," said GFP Wildlife Diversity Coordinator Eileen Dowd Stukel, "just an interest and a commitment to doing it right."

If one chooses to partake in this fun and fulfilling activity, Stukel advises to keep a few things in mind:

Place feeders where they can be watched, enjoyed and feeding visitors can be photographed.
If feeders are bothered by squirrels, place the feeder on a pole away from trees.
Place feeders near cover to protect feeding birds from weather and predators, such as free-roaming cats.
Move feeders if birds are noticed to be striking windows.
Some birds, such as sparrows, juncos, doves and pheasants, feed on the ground or on a flat platform.
Offer several feeding sites to avoid overcrowding and disease transmission.
If only one menu item is offered, black oil sunflower seed appeals to many birds. Ground-feeding birds may prefer corn, milo, or millet to sunflower seed. Pine siskins, goldfinches and redpolls prefer niger seed (also called finch or thistle seed), which is offered in feeders designed for this seed. Suet or peanut butter may attract woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches and brown creepers. Offer year-round water by adding a bird bath heater. Avoid offering human "table scraps," which may attract rodents or raccoons.

Remember to keep feeders and feeding areas clean by regularly raking up seed hulls and cleaning feeders by scrubbing with soapy water and rinsing in water diluted with a small amount of bleach. Store seed in tight, waterproof containers to prevent mold and to discourage rodents that may be attracted to accessible seed.

"Once a person begins feeding, they should try to continue through the winter," Stukel said, "and don't worry about missing a few days, since feeding birds typically visit other feeding stations. If you notice sick or diseased birds, stop feeding for 10-14 days to avoid further spreading diseases and disinfect your feeders."

Project FeederWatch is a citizen science project led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The project helps to track wintering bird patterns and has provided extremely valuable information about diseases that affect wild birds.

To become a FeederWatch citizen scientist, visit online at www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/ to join in this winter's count.

Based on results from last winter's South Dakota FeederWatch participants, the black-capped chickadee was the most common bird feeder visitor in the state. Rounding out the top five were the downy woodpecker, American goldfinch, house finch, and white-breasted nuthatch.

-GFP-

Mule Deer Has Bad-Antler Day

PIERRE, S.D. - Most people have complained of a "bad hair" day, but that is trivial compared to a buck mule deer that recently experienced a "bad-antler" day.

On Sunday, Oct. 30, Game, Fish and Parks Wildlife Biologist John Kanta, along with Conservation Officer Chad Sayles and Conservation Officer Trainee Shawn Wichmann, received a call from a resident in Rapid City about a mule deer buck that appeared to be entangled in fencing material by its antlers.

After confirming the situation, officials approached and evaluated the animal. "The deer was very stressed and difficult to approach," Kanta said, "but it did not appear injured. So, instead of euthanizing the deer, we chose to try to chemically immobilize it to remove the entanglement."

The deer was successfully immobilized, and officials were able to approach the deer to free it from the entangled debris.

"The material turned out to be three metal fence posts and some rope that was used to secure a tree," Sayles noted. "Once we removed the posts and rope from the antlers, we inspected the deer for any major injuries and overall health. We were then able to reverse the effects of the drugs and free the deer, which was monitored while it recovered under a tree."

Kanta added that it is important to note that immobilizing animals is expensive, time consuming and dangerous.

"In most wildlife cases, euthanization is the best or needed method available to resolve a situation, but we do handle them on a case-by-case basis," he said. "If this deer had been injured or presented a public safety issue, it most likely would have been euthanized."

The deer was tangled on the outskirts of Rapid City, so the location made it safe to fire the dart gun. When animals are injected with these tranquilizers, their meat becomes inedible for up to 30 days after injection.

"We have to be certain that the animal will not soon be harvested and consumed by a hunter," Kanta said. "In this situation, we felt that the deer could be safely immobilized and released."

-GFP-

Snowmobile Trail Maps Available

PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota's 2005-06 Snowmobile Trails maps are now available at most Game, Fish and Parks offices or by contacting the department headquarters in Pierre.

Trails Program Specialist Scott Carbonneau said the maps highlight the nationally-recognized Black Hills Trail System as well as the state's 11 eastern trails. Carbonneau said riders will have nearly 1,600 miles of groomed trails this winter, including about 325 miles in the Black Hills.

"The snowmobile trail maps are essential for both novice and seasoned riders," Carbonneau said. "In addition to showing trail routes, they also indicate where riders can find essential services including food and fuel. I always have three or four of them stuffed in my snowmobile's storage compartment."

South Dakota's snowmobile season officially opens Dec. 1 along the eastern trails and Dec. 15 in the Black Hills. The dates were established because of hunting seasons and easements with private landowners.

Carbonneau said snowmobile trails throughout eastern South Dakota are established and maintained by snowmobile clubs through a grant in aid program. Clubs began installing trail markers and signs on Nov. 1.

"Once the snowmobile markers are installed, they essentially become designated snowmobile trails and wheeled vehicles are prohibited," Carbonneau said. "It's important that ATV operators understand that although they can use the ditches during most of the year, it is illegal to operate them along a signed snowmobile trail during the winter months."

For more information, or to receive a free snowmobile map, contact the Department of Game, Fish and Parks at (605) 773-3391 or via email at: [email protected].

-GFP-

Landowner Permission Needed to Hunt, Trap, Fish Private Land in South Dakota

PIERRE, S.D. - Hunters are reminded that in most of South Dakota the law states that no person may hunt, fish or trap on private property without permission from the landowner or lessee.

Game, Fish and Parks Regional Law Enforcement Specialist Bruce Nachtigall of Rapid City said hunters must remember to get permission to access private land before they can begin hunting the property. He also notes that the laws on trespass and the requirements for posting land are slightly different within the Black Hills Fire Protection District than the rest of the state.

"Within this area, a landowner must give notice to hunters that his or her land is not open to hunting, which may be given verbally or by posting the land with written or printed notices," Nachtigall explained. "As per SDCL 41-9-2, these notices must be at the gates or places of entrance, and in conspicuous places around the land. The notices must also have the name and address of the landowner or lessee."

Hunters should also note that private property outside of a portion of the Black Hills Fire Protection District in South Dakota does not need to be posted to legally prevent trespassing, which includes land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

"Unless CRP lands are enrolled into the department's Walk-In Areas program, CRP is private property and permission must be given before hunters can legally access these properties," Nachtigall said. "Hunters need to be aware that state law restricts access to CRP lands, even though the program is federally funded."

He added that asking for permission can improve relationships between landowners and hunters. "It only takes one trespassing violation to ruin access privileges for other hunters," he said. "Hunting private land is a privilege, not a right. If hunters respect private property and show their gratitude afterward, they can establish a relationship with the landowner that both will appreciate."

-GFP-
 

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November 14, 2005

Commission Proposes Increase in State Park Camping Fees
Buy Leftover Deer License Online, Get At License Agent
Custer State Park Holds 40th Annual Fall Classic Bison Auction
Deer Die-Off Noted in Several Areas
Think SD State Parks for Holiday Giving
Black Hills Deer Opener Busy
South Dakota Fish Spearing Opportunities Expanded
Sky is Not the Limit When Waterfowling

Commission Proposes Increase in State Park Camping Fees

PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission has proposed a $1 increase in the cost of campsites with electrical hookups in South Dakota state parks, which would help to offset the increasing costs of electricity.

The commission proposed increasing the electrical campsite fee at the monthly meeting held Nov. 3. If approved, the proposed fee increase would take effect immediately on all state park campsites with electricity. Fees for non-electrical campsites, cabins and group lodges will not be affected.

The commission will make a final decision on the proposal at its Dec.1 meeting in Pierre.

To comment on the proposal, people can attend the public hearing at 2 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 1, at the Ramkota Convention Center in Pierre, or write Game, Fish and Parks, 523 E. Capitol, Pierre, S.D. 57501. E-mail comments can be sent to [email protected]. Comments must include full name and address.

For more information on the S.D. state parks, visit www.sdgfp.info/Parks or call (605) 773-3391.

-GFP-

Buy Leftover Deer License Online, Get At License Agent

PIERRE, S.D. - With the initial drawings completed and the seasons soon opening, leftover West River and East River firearms deer licenses can again be purchased online and then either picked up from one of the designated South Dakota license agents or received by mail from the Game, Fish and Parks License Office.

A hunter will begin by entering the online application program found at www.sdgfp.info. Towards the end of the application process, the hunter will need to decide whether they want to have the license mailed to them, or if they wish to pick up the license at a designated agent, which includes some GFP Wildlife Offices. This decision is made just prior to printing the receipt for the sale.

"It is important to note that the hunter will need to decide whether they want to have the license mailed to them or if they wish to pick up the license at a designated agent," Simpson said. "If they choose to have the license mailed to them, their receipt will indicate such, and a license agent will not be able to issue the license. If they want to pick their license up at a license agent, the printed receipt will state that it is for "in store" pick up."

"Like last year, we are again offering this service as a way to encourage the sale of antlerless deer licenses," Simpson explained. "It is very important that we get an adequate harvest of doe deer during this hunting season. We want to give hunters extra opportunity to purchase these leftover licenses."

Simpson said that not every license agent in the state would have these permits. "We have to limit the number of license agents that have these permits available to ensure that we have a good handle on the sale of the permits and a good audit of our accounts when the seasons are completed," he said. He noted that the list of designated license agents is listed as part of a link when applying online.

West River Deer licenses are now available for sale from the GFP license sales link at their web site www.sdgfp.info. Click on the link to "Licenses and Reservations" and then to "Apply For Limited Issue Licenses" and follow the instructions for purchasing the license.

East River Deer leftover licenses will be available online beginning Monday, Nov. 14.

If hunters choose to have their tags issued by an agent, they must print the confirmation receipt at the end of the online transaction and present it to the agent, along with photo identification, such as a driver's license or expiration-dated South Dakota identification card. The license agent will then issue the tag or tags. Hunters who choose to not get their tags at a license agent will receive them by mail.

People should note that they can still apply by paper application to the GFP License Office in Pierre. Applications can be printed from the GFP website at www.sdgfp.info. Hunters may have up to five West River deer permits and five East River deer permits.

-GFP-

Custer State Park Holds 40th Annual Fall Classic Bison Auction

CUSTER, S.D. - The 2005 Custer State Park Fall Classic Bison Auction will be held on Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Custer State Park corrals.

This year's offering includes 18 mature cows, 32 two-year old heifers, 17 yearling heifers, 49 heifer calves, 69 bull calves, 28 yearling bulls, nine two-year old breeding bulls and seven burros.

The auction will begin Saturday morning at 10 a.m. (Mountain Standard Time) at the Custer State Park corrals, located 15 miles east of Custer on Highway 16A and then 9 miles south on the Wildlife Loop Road. Signs will be posted to assist in locating the corrals. A buyer's reception will be held prior to the on Friday, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. at the Bavarian Inn in Custer. Information about the bison will be presented beginning at 7 p.m.

For the past 40 years, the park has made its surplus bison available to the private sector. Revenue from the park's bison herd is a significant of the capital generated by the park and goes toward continued park operations.

For additional information about the bison auction, contact Custer State Park, HC 83, Box 70, Custer, S.D. 57730, (605) 255-4515, or e-mail questions to [email protected].

-GFP-

Deer Die-Off Noted in Several Areas

PIERRE, S.D. - Several areas in South Dakota have reported deer die-offs, causing concern among some area residents.

"We have identified the cause of death in some of these cases to Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease or EHD," said Tony Leif, game program administrator for the Department of Game, Fish and Parks. "After the hot and dry weather we have had, we anticipated problems with EHD and it appears that our suspicions were correct."

Leif said that EHD most often impacts white-tailed deer, especially larger bucks, and it can become prevalent at the driest time of the year - usually mid-August through September. Outbreaks of EHD occur most often in central and western South Dakota. The disease is specific to ungulates and is transmitted by biting midges. The disease is not contagious from one animal to another, and is not transferable to humans.

"There have been reports of die-offs in several counties including Charles Mix, Brule, Harding, Perkins, Butte, Meade and Bennett," Leif said. "There may be additional small-scale die-offs in other counties as well. Bennett and Charles Mix appear to be some of the more heavily affected areas."

Brent Nye, a GFP conservation officer in Charles Mix County said he estimates the die-off conservatively at approximately 250 deer.

Department Regional Wildlife Manager John Wrede noted that the sale of remaining leftover licenses in one Bennett County unit had been eliminated to compensate for the loss of deer in that area. "We took this measure in response to landowner concerns about the deer loss. Aside from Bennett County, I would not anticipate any significant reduction in the deer population in most areas due to the EHD die-off," he said.

The biting midges that transmit EHD are effectively stopped with the first killing frost, so there is little chance of encountering an EHD-affected animal while hunting. However, any hunter who does encounter a deer that shows signs of disease, extreme weakness or emaciation should notify a GFP office or the local conservation officer. The hunter should be prepared to provide details on the condition of the observed animal, as well as specifics on where and when it was spotted.

-GFP-

Think SD State Parks for Holiday Giving

PIERRE, S.D. - Gift giving can be one of the trickiest undertakings of the year, but don't start buying numerous tins of popcorn or cookies to hand out just yet. This year, consider those on your list who might appreciate a year's worth of visits to South Dakota's over 50 state parks and recreations areas.

The 2006 SD state parks annual entrance license is now available for purchase at $23 for one and $34.50 for two. The license allows entry into designated state parks, recreation areas and lakeside use areas and is valid through May 2007. The SD state parks annual entrance license gives that special person on your list countless opportunities for outdoor recreation, from hiking and biking, to bird watching, to fishing and boating.

The annual entrance license can be purchased at your local Game, Fish and Parks office, by calling (605) 773-3391, or online at www.sdgfp.info/Parks.

In addition, there are a number of gift possibilities available for all types of recreation-users and outdoor enthusiasts.

The SD State Park Trail Atlas will guide your favorite trail explorer along nearly 300 miles of trails in 30 state parks across South Dakota, whether they adventure by foot, bicycle, horse or cross-country skis. The atlas is available for $10 (plus $2.50 shipping and handling).

A $5 subscription to the South Dakota Conservation Digest will give the gift of the outdoors year-round. The bi-monthly magazine covers South Dakota's outdoor scene, including hunting, fishing, state parks and outdoor recreation.

Fans of the 109-mile George S. Mickelson Trail in the Black Hills may appreciate an annual Mickelson Trail pass or either of the Jon Crane prints depicting scenes along the trail. Proceeds support development projects along the trail.

Also available is a South Dakota State Parks T-shirt for $10. The short sleeve T-shirt, available in stonewashed blue, features a state parks icon on the front, and an outline of the state of South Dakota on the back, which is overlaid with pictures of recreational activities.

For an all-inclusive gift, give your outdoor enthusiast a State Parks gift set. The gift set includes a 2006 park entrance license, a copy of the SD State Park Trail Atlas, a State Parks T-shirt and several free state parks and outdoor items. The set comes gift-wrapped and is available for only $40 (plus $5 shipping and handling).

This merchandise and more from Game, Fish and Parks can be viewed and purchased online by visiting www.sdgfp.info/Parks and then choosing "Shop GFP Online" along the left side. Orders may also be placed by phone by calling (605) 773-3391. Shipping and handling fees may apply.

-GFP-

Black Hills Deer Opener Busy

PIERRE, S.D. - Game, Fish and Parks law enforcement officials had a busy Nov. 4 - 5 weekend following the Nov. 1 Black Hills deer season opener.

"Each year, our officers get a number of complaints from deer hunters and homeowners about hunters they see shooting from the road or out of vehicles," said GFP Regional Law Specialist Bruce Nachtigall of Rapid City. "When the Black Hills deer season opened, we placed a number of deer replicas (fake deer) in the field to see if anyone would consider targeting them from the road. Unfortunately, we had to issue 21 citations over the weekend, most of which were for shooting from a road or from a motor vehicle, both of which are illegal."

Nachtigall mentioned that some other notable violations were encountered. "We also issued citations for hunting prior to the season, for not wearing florescent orange and for firearms protruding from a motor vehicle," he said.

One particular case was initiated when a passing truck caught the attention of Conservation Officer Mike Apland. Officer Apland noticed a set of elk antlers protruding from the pickup, which was suspicious because the South Dakota elk season closed on Oct. 31. When Officer Apland stopped the vehicle, he found eight dead deer in the vehicle. Six deer were improperly tagged with Wyoming tags, and the other two were tagged with West River Deer tags from Butte County. The West River Deer season did not open until Nov. 12. In addition, he also found an elk head and two sets of deer antlers and capes illegally accepted for taxidermy work in Wyoming (no taxidermy license). Game, Fish and Parks Officers Mikkelson, Nachtigall and Wyoming Warden Chris Teter assisted with this case.

-GFP-

South Dakota Fish Spearing Opportunities Expanded
PIERRE, S.D. - People who recreate by spearfishing have increased opportunity under recent regulation changes by the Game, Fish and Parks Commission.
Spearfishing includes taking fish with archery gear, hand held spears or underwater spearguns.
"Overall, a number of changes have been made to provide more spearfishing opportunity, which has recently become more popular, and to increase harvest of rough fish including invasive fish species such as grass carp, bighead carp and silver carp, These species are now found in the Missouri River below Gavins Point Dam as well as the lower Missouri River tributaries," said GFP Fisheries Administrator Dennis Unkenholz. He noted that spearfishers are expected to abide by the same rules as do anglers and comply with the rules that govern spearing while underwater.

Spearfishing changes include:

Increasing the time that night spearing is open on inland waters by having the season open May 1 through Aug. 31 instead of June 1 through Aug. 31.
Aligning South Dakota's night-spearing rule with Nebraska's rule, which allows night spearing of rough fish species on the Nebraska/South Dakota boundary waters to be open April 1 and extend through Aug. 31.
Adding lakes Whitewood, Preston, Spirit, Albert, John, Mary and Norden to the list of waters open for winter spearing from Dec. 1 through Feb. 28. If Feb. 28 falls on a Saturday, then the season would close on March 1.
Extending the spearing season for game fish on portions of three Missouri River Reservoirs from June 15 (formerly opened on July 1) through March 5 of the following year, except for Lake Sharpe, which is closed for spearing during September through November.
Unkenholz noted that the areas of the reservoirs that are open for the spearing of game fish have not changed and include:

Lake Francis Case from Fort Randall Dam to the I 90 bridge, except the waters between there and the railroad bridge.
Lake Sharpe from Big Bend Dam to the highway 14 bridge.
Lake Oahe from Oahe dam upstream to highway 212 bridge.
-GFP-

Sky is Not the Limit When Waterfowling

PIERRE, S.D. - We have often heard the cliche that "The sky is the limit," but Game, Fish and Parks officials say that philosophy should never apply to waterfowl hunting.

"Hunting includes knowing when the birds are within range for a clean kill and knowing when they are flying too high or too far away," said GFP Senior Wildlife Biologist Spencer Vaa. "Skybusting, or taking long distance shots at birds that are out of range, is not hunting; it is simply shooting."

According to Vaa, birds shot at long distances, more than 50 yards, can suffer wounds that eventually prove to be fatal, but may not knock the bird from the sky upon impact. Some birds become "sailers" and fall within eyesight of the hunter, while other injured birds may make it back to the water and cannot be retrieved.

"When not recovered, crippled birds create a poor image of waterfowl hunters. Additionally, the failure to retrieve birds that fall within sight of the hunter and are retrievable is a violation of the wanton waste law and can result in a citation," he said.

Vaa added that skybusting often creates two other situations that can decrease a hunter's chance of success. First, later flights of geese become conditioned to the shooting and will simply fly even higher than the early flights of geese. Secondly, skybusting can cause a domino effect among other hunters on the line. Other hunters figure, "Hey, if he is shooting, they must be in range, so I can shoot too."

In a nutshell, Vaa encourages ethical hunting and asks waterfowl hunters to develop patience and knowledge of when birds are within range and when they are too far away. He warns hunters to not be tempted to "reach for the sky" while hunting waterfowl this fall. "Though someone might get lucky once in a while, skybusting does far more harm than it is worth for that one lucky shot," he said.

-GFP-
 

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November 28, 2005

Game, Fish and Parks Recognized for Customer Service
PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota Office of Tourism recently named 14 Game, Fish and Parks entities as recipients of the 2006 Great Service STAR Program. The program recognizes both government agencies and private businesses for providing outstanding customer service.

"This award is a tribute to the customer service that our entire Game, Fish and Parks staff have provided during the past year," said Department Secretary John Cooper. "The Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls has been noted for a quality education experience year-in and year-out. The 13 park and recreation areas are representative of the quality service of our entire Parks and Recreation system."

"State Park Staff do an excellent job of providing quality service to park visitors. This award reaffirms their efforts," said Linda Sandness, Coordinator of Visitor Services for the S.D. Division of Parks and Recreation.

To qualify for the honor, participants must complete a set of criteria of hospitality training for their employees. Those completing the four steps of the program are awarded the Great Service STAR logo to use in the marketing of their business.

The requirements include attending hospitality training, implementing a system for visitor feedback, and recognizing outstanding employees. When those requirements are met, participants apply for the award through the South Dakota Office of Tourism.

Game, Fish and Parks entities receiving the Great Service STAR recognition include the following:

Angostura Recreation Area near Hot Springs

The Black Hills Trails Office in Lead

Buryanek Recreation Area near Platte

Custer State Park near Custer

Farm Island Recreation Area near Pierre

Fort Sisseton Historic State Park near Lake City

Lewis and Clark Recreation Area near Yankton

North Point Recreation Area near Pickstown

The Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls

Pelican Lake Recreation Area near Watertown

Platte Creek Recreation Area near Platte

Roy Lake State Park near Lake City

Sandy Shore Recreation Area near Watertown

Snake Creek Recreation Area near Platte

West Bend Recreation Area near Pierre

-GFP-

GFP Biologists Seeking Rare Fish, Monitoring Missouri River

PIERRE, S.D. - Three Game, Fish and Parks biologists are pooling their talents to track one of South Dakota's endangered fish, as well as other native species.

Sam Stukel, the crew leader from Gregory, S.D., Steve LaBay from Willow Lake, S.D. and Jason Kral from Princeton, M.N. comprise the South Dakota Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Program team located in Yankton. All three are new fisheries biologists with the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks. Funding for the team is being provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"Our top goal is to look for the endangered pallid sturgeon, but we are also closely monitoring several other native fishes, such as the sauger, blue sucker, big and smallmouth buffalos and several chubs," Kral said. "We will also be monitoring the 'before and after' effects of the potential 2006 spring rise, plus long-term effects on fish reproduction and population trends. All in all, we have 59 miles of the Missouri River we sample from Gavins Point Dam here in Yankton down to Ponca, Nebraska."

There are six different groups participating in this research project, which include teams in North Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri and South Dakota. Each group monitors their designated river segment and performs a specific duty. "Our group specializes in aging blue suckers and bigmouth buffalos for the entire Missouri River," Kral said. "In addition to GFP staff working on pallids in South Dakota, there also is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crew working on the river below Fort Randall Dam doing similar work."

Every year, the South Dakota team randomly selects 12 river bends to sample. Five different net types are used to target the different sizes and species of fish throughout the summer months. When the water temperature falls below 55 ˚F, the team begins using gill nets, as sturgeon have been found to be less stressed when the water temps cool. All five net types are used in every one of the 12 randomly selected bends.

Kral noted that the most recent pallid sturgeons successfully netted were captured in gill nets, all of which were released healthy and in good shape. "The larger wild pallid sturgeon was the first wild sturgeon collected by a biologist below Gavins Point Dam possibly since the 1970s." he said. "This sturgeon was a very significant finding, and we all knew right away we had something special, even before we got it on the boat." He added that the other pallid sturgeon collected and released this year were hatchery raised.

South Dakota's Game, Fish and Parks is not the only group finding wild pallid sturgeons. Teams in North Dakota and Nebraska have each captured three or four wild pallid sturgeons with the ones caught in North Dakota all being more than 60 pounds. The sturgeons caught in Nebraska weighed around 10 pounds.

"I really love this job," Kral exclaimed. "I pretty much get to be outside all year catching fish and enjoying this beautiful stretch of river. Dealing with such a primitive fish is very rewarding, especially considering how rare the wild ones really are. Plus, it is fun telling my family and friends that I catch fish for a living."

"Working as a biologist on the pallid sturgeon assessment program has truly been a dream come true," said Steve LaBay. "The privilege of working with an imperiled species such as the pallid sturgeon is a very unique opportunity, in that very few who walk the earth will ever get a chance to do so."

"There is very little unchannelled and undamed Missouri River left today, which makes it so exciting to study the ecology of such a rare environment," Stukel said. "We actually get a little taste of what the old Missouri was like."

-GFP-

Try SD State Park Camping Cabins, Lodges This Holiday Season

PIERRE, S.D. - Looking for a change of scenery this holiday season? Try the warmth and comfort of one of the many heated camping cabins found throughout South Dakota state parks and recreation areas. In addition, three lodges offer larger groups a winter gathering-place and get-away.

Camping cabins are available in state parks and recreation areas across South Dakota. The one-room, log-style cabins sleep four and have heating, air-conditioning and electricity. Furnishings include a set of bunk beds, double bed, table and benches. Campers will need to provide linens or sleeping bags. The cabins rent for $32 or $37 per night.

If you are gathering a group together, three recreation areas have lodges to suit your needs. Mina Lake Recreation Area near Aberdeen and Shadehill Recreation Area near Lemmon each have a three-bedroom group lodge that sleeps eight. Lake Thompson Recreation Area near Lake Preston offers a larger five-bedroom lodge that accommodates up to 12 people. Like the cabins, linens are not provided. The lodges at Mina Lake and Shadehill rent for $110 a night. The lodge at Lake Thompson is $175 per night. An additional fee of $15 will be charged for each additional person.

To check availability or to make reservations, go online to www.CampSD.com or call 1-800-710-CAMP (2267). Reservations for cabins and lodges are available year-round.

South Dakota state parks offer year-round access to recreation opportunities, including winter activities like hiking, walking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing. The camping cabins and lodges located in state parks give visitors an additional opportunity to enjoy South Dakota state parks throughout the winter months.

Park entrance licenses are required year-round in all designated fees areas. The 2006 park entrance license is now available online and at park offices, and is valid until May 2007.

More information on winter activities and camping in South Dakota state parks can be found online at www.sdgfp.info/Parks or by calling (605) 773-3391.

-GFP-

Be Alert for Bighorn Sheep in Cleghorn Canyon Area

PIERRE, S.D. - Motorists traveling through or near Cleghorn Canyon are advised to watch for bighorn sheep crossing or standing on the highways.

Every year in November, the bighorn sheep in the Rapid Creek Drainage move to lower country, which means there will be large groups of the animals congregating in Cleghorn Canyon and near the Cleghorn Fish Hatchery. The animals move within the fences there because the hatchery provides a safe location where the sheep have grass and plenty of water.

"The sheep will cross the highway onto the hatchery grounds and literally jump into the hatchery raceways to get a drink," said Game, Fish and Parks Wildlife Biologist John Kanta. "The problem that evolves each year is that the sheep end up in or near major roads and highways. Sheep typically do not run across a road, they just slowly walk across or stand in the road. This produces a major safety issue for people and the sheep when there are vehicles traveling through the area at high rates of speed."

Kanta noted that they have the same problem with the Hill City herd of sheep. "Every year, we have sheep and vehicle collisions just outside of Hill City on Highway 385," he said. "People who live in these areas need to stay alert and drive in a manner that is best suited to prevent an accident."

-GFP-

Antlerless Tags and Extended Deer Seasons Give Sportsmen Opportunity To Share The Harvest

RAPID CITY, S.D. - The thousands of doe tags left for South Dakota's East and West River deer seasons offer sportsmen an opportunity to spend more time outdoors to and help the hungry in South Dakota. Hunters can share their harvest by donating game meat to the Sportsmen Against Hunger program.

"I encourage all hunters to go out hunting one more time to shoot a doe or two and donate them to the needy," said Sportsmen Against Hunger Program Coordinator Jeff Olson of Rapid City. "There are many hungry people in South Dakota. One in seven people in South Dakota is at risk of not having sufficient resources to obtain enough food. Our local food banks can distribute thousands of pounds of burger a day to the needy."

The original West River deer season closed Nov. 27, but has been extended from Nov. 28 through Dec. 4 for antlerless deer hunting only. The antlerless deer season will reopen again for the week of Jan. 1 - 8. Hunters can use any of this year's unfilled firearms West River deer licenses to harvest an antlerless deer during these extended seasons. Links to leftover licenses can be found on the GFP website directly at www.sdgfp.info/Wildlife/hunting/Leftovers/Index.htm. A hunter can acquire up to five West River deer licenses.

The East River deer season is in progress and will be open through Dec. 4 in all units. Hunters will then have an extra week from Dec. 5 - 11 to harvest antlerless deer with any of this year's unfilled, firearms East River deer licenses. Like West River, hunters will have another chance at antlerless deer hunting Jan. 1 - 8, 2006. A hunter can also acquire up to five of this year's East River deer licenses. The link to leftover East River deer licenses can be found by accessing the web link given above.

There are other reasons to harvest does as well:

Landowners need and want more deer harvested. Depredation could be a big issue this winter, depending on the weather.
The tags are simple to get. Go online to www.sdgfp.info, apply, and choose the option to pick up the tags a local retailer.
Biologically, thoughts about harvesting antlerless deer have changed. The old theory was not to kill does, as they have fawns that are bucks, so more does equaled more bucks. "Modern biological theory says a doe-to-buck ratio of two to one sets the stage for a healthy deer herd," Olson said. "Controlling the number of does is sound management."
Sportsmen Against Hunger connects generous hunters with food banks that help the needy across the state. Two food banks in the state supply more than 465 organizations in South Dakota with food. The organizations have a real need for red meat from deer and other big game.

"Our whole purpose is to get healthy game meat to the people who really need it," Olson said. "Game meat is nutritious, low-fat and can be an important part of healthy meals for people who often do without."

During the past 12 years, the South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger program has donated more than 70,000 pounds of food to the needy in the state, enough to supply more than 200,000 meals. By giving more, hunters can play an important role in ending hunger in South Dakota, Olson said.

"People are hungry, and sportsmen can help," he said.

Hunters can call (800) 456-2758 to find out where they can take game animals. Every donation is tax deductible, and hunters will have the satisfaction of knowing they are helping families in need.

The Black Hills Sportsmen's Club, S.D. Game, Fish and Parks Department, Safari Club International, Black Hills Regional Food Bank and Second Harvest Food Bank all sponsor South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger.
 

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December 12, 2005

Pheasants Doing Well After Winter Storm

PIERRE, S.D. - Game, Fish and Parks officials say that some pheasant losses were documented from the recent blizzard and subsequent 10 days in the deep freeze; however, the loss of birds appears to be minimal.

"Areas with marginal habitat became inundated with snow from the storm, and any pheasant that did not move to better cover most likely perished," said GFP Wildlife Program Administrator Tony Leif of Pierre.

Leif noted that since the storm, people have been seeing large flocks of pheasants wherever good habitat remains, and this indicates that most pheasants moved to or were already using the better habitat, like large wetlands, Conservation Reserve Program fields and shelterbelts, to escape the elements.

"All in all, South Dakota is really fortunate to still have 1.5 million acres enrolled in the CRP," he said. "A year or two from now, we may not be so fortunate. Those CRP acres are providing essential winter habitat to pheasants right now, and regardless of how the rest of this winter plays out, CRP fields will again make a significant contribution to pheasant reproduction next summer."

On top of CRP, GFP has made annual investments in winter habitat (averaging almost $500,000 since 1990) through incentive payments to landowners for planting shelterbelts and food plots. "While recent expenditures for shelterbelts are not likely helping much, those from 5, 10 and 15 years ago are paying dividends right now," Leif said.

Leif noted that it is easy to draw an analogy of this storm with the winter of 1996-97. "Although this storm was three weeks later than the election-day storm of 1996, it certainly packed quite a punch," he said. "But the story that remains to be told is what is to come in the next three months. In 1996-97, the first storm of the winter was the start of nearly five months of winter weather, and a repeat of that scenario would result in a significant reduction in the breeding population of pheasants come spring."

All in all, wildlife officials are hoping that the weekend warm up is the start of a new weather trend for the winter of 2005-06.

-GFP-

SD State Parks Provide Great Gifts for Last-Minute Shoppers

PIERRE, S.D. - Last-minute shoppers can still give the gift of outdoor recreation this Christmas with help from the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.

The 2006 park entrance and the SD State Park Trail Atlas are two gifts that will be enjoyed all year long. And, with state park offices across the state, they are quick and easy to find if you're running short on time.

The 2006 SD State Parks Annual Entrance License makes a great stocking-stuffer for all your outdoor recreationists - from campers to anglers to bird watchers. Entrance licenses are available for $23 each or $34.50 for two. The 2006 entrance license allows entry into state parks, recreation areas and lakeside use areas that are designated as fee areas through May 2007.

For the outdoor adventurer, give a gift of the SD State Park Trail Atlas. The atlas will guide your favorite trail explorer by foot, bicycle, horse or cross-country skis along nearly 300 miles of trails in 30 state parks across South Dakota. The atlas is available for $10.

You can pick up the 2006 park entrance license and the SD State Park Trail Atlas at state park offices across the state, as well as at the Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls and the Game, Fish and Parks offices in Aberdeen and Rapid City. Or, call the division office at (605) 773-3391 to find the vendor nearest you.

-GFP-

Dec. 31: Black Hills Archery Season Closes, Archery Tags Convert to Antlerless
PIERRE, S.D. - Important changes become effective to the state's archery deer season on Dec. 31. On that date, the archery deer hunting season closes in the Black Hills, and that is the last day South Dakota archers can harvest a buck deer.
Although the Black Hills closes to archery deer hunting after Dec. 31, the archery deer season will still be open in most of the rest of the state through Jan. 31 for antlerless deer harvest only.

"On Jan. 1, all unfilled archery 'any deer' licenses convert to 'antlerless deer' licenses and are valid through the end of January," said GFP Regional Law Specialist Bruce Nachtigall of Rapid City. "Also, Archers who still have unfilled antlerless deer archery licenses for the 2005-06 season can continue to hunt antlerless deer in any area open to archery hunting through Jan. 31."

In addition to the Black Hills, other areas closed to archery hunting after Dec. 31 include:

Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Brown County.

Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge in Bennett County.

All South Dakota State Park and Recreation Areas.

One-tag and two-tag antlerless archery deer licenses will be available through the end of the archery season either by online application or by paper application, both of which are available via the GFP website at www.sdgfp.info.
-GFP-

Changes Proposed To State Rare Species List

PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission is considering several changes to the state lists of threatened or endangered species. The proposal is part of a regular review of these lists to assure that they reflect the best biological information.

During the past five years, South Dakota GFP has received new funds, called State Wildlife Grants, to better address the needs of rare species with inventories and management. The Wildlife Diversity/Natural Heritage Program used results of some of this new survey work to recommend five changes to the state lists.

Three species are being recommended for removal from protection under South Dakota's endangered species law. They are the central mudminnow, trout-perch, and Blanding's turtle.

For the central mudminnow and trout-perch, South Dakota represents the periphery of their ranges, and these fish are doing well, overall.

Blanding's turtle has only been documented once in South Dakota in recent decades, and the species occurs primarily in the eastern states and provinces.

The recommendation for the sicklefin chub is to change the status from state threatened to state endangered, since this species has been documented only rarely in South Dakota in recent years.

The Commission is considering adding the Dakota skipper butterfly to the state threatened species list, because of the drastic decline of this species' tallgrass prairie habitat.

Delisted species, those that have been removed from the state lists of threatened or endangered species, will continue to be monitored by the South Dakota Natural Heritage Program. To learn more about South Dakota's rare species protection efforts, visit the Wildlife Diversity Program's website: www.sdgfp.info/Wildlife/Diversity/index.htm

The comment period for this proposal will be open up to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 4. Anyone interested in presenting a comment is encouraged to do so at any time during the comment period by e-mailing [email protected] or writing to Game, Fish and Parks, 523 E. Capitol, Pierre, S.D. 57501. All comments must be received before 5 p.m. and include the person's full name and address. Comments may also be presented in person to the GFP Commission at the time of the public hearing at 2 p.m., Jan. 5, at the Pierre Ramkota.

-GFP-

GFP 2006 Wildlife Seasonal And Executive Positions Announced
PIERRE, S.D. -- Opportunities for 2006 Seasonal and Executive Intern Program employment with the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks Division of Wildlife have been announced.

Assistant Wildlife Director Emmett Keyser said seasonal positions that are available for Summer 2006 may include fisheries, wildlife and habitat technicians, fisheries and habitat aides, interpretive aides, conservation crew leaders, walk-in area crew leaders and program assistant/naturalists. Listings are specific to locations around the state, and some listings have multiple positions available.

For seasonal employment positions, all applicants must be 18-years of age and be available to work the normal summer season, mid-May through mid-August. In some specific instances, work will begin as early as mid-March with the job running into September or even October. Applications must be postmarked no later than Feb. 10, 2006. Applications received after the deadline will still be accepted until all positions are filled. Listings and applications for Game, Fish and Parks are also available online at www.state.sd.us/bop/Jobs/Seasonal/home.htm.

Information on the Division of Wildlife's Executive Intern Program positions for summer 2006 will be available in mid-December 2005 on the BOP Website. These summer intern positions will include: conservation officer interns, fisheries and fish hatchery interns, wildlife and wildlife damage program interns, habitat and land management interns, GIS/Wildlife interns, information specialist interns, naturalist/program coordinator interns and volunteer coordinator interns. The application deadline for these positions will be Feb. 1, 2006, however applications received after this date may or may not be considered.

Applicants for intern Program positions must meet the following

requirements in order to qualify for the program:

1) At the time an application is completed and submitted, the applicant must be a full-time student and must currently be enrolled at a college, university, or vocational-technical school.

2) By the time the internship is to start, applicants must have completed their entire freshman year at their college or university (be classified as a sophomore) or have completed not less than one year of study at their vocational-technical school. Some positions have additional requirements that are above and beyond the program's minimum requirements.

Listings and specific application information can be found online at www.state.sd.us/bop/Jobs/Intern/home.htm.

For detailed information and a complete job listing, contact any South Dakota One-Stop Career Center office. Job listing information and applications can also be obtained from the South Dakota Bureau of Personnel, 500 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, S.D. 57501.

-GFP-

Registration Available for Ninth Annual Mickelson Trail Trek
PIERRE, S.D. - Registration for the 9th Annual Mickelson Trail Trek is now available at the trail's website, www.MickelsonTrail.com. Game, Fish and Parks officials are encouraging bicyclists to sign up early to ensure a spot in the Trek, which will be held Sept. 15 - 17, 2006.

According to officials, the 2005 Trail Trek attracted a record 530 bicyclists, a 40 percent increase over attendance in 2004.

"Over the years, our goal was to increase the number of riders in the Trek," said Harley Noem, Northern Hills regional supervisor for the Division of Parks and Recreation. "We were pleased to break 400 in 2004, but last year's attendance simply shattered that record. I think this is just the beginning for the Trek. Because of the popularity of the ride, we are anticipating the number of riders to continue to increase each year, which may force us to consider capping this event. In fact, I would encourage riders to sign up as early as possible this year to ensure a spot on the ride."

The annual supported ride highlights the George S. Mickelson Trail as it winds through the heart of the Black Hills from Edgemont to Lead/Deadwood. The ride began in 1998 as a celebration of the completion of the rails-to-trails project. The Trek continues today to introduce new bicyclists to the trail and to thank supporters for their long-standing enthusiasm for the trail.

Riders on the Trail Trek will ride 109 miles of the trail over three days, from Friday, Sept. 15 through Sunday, Sept. 17. The $150 registration fee includes the trail pass, shuttle service, commemorative souvenirs, refreshments and some meals during each day's ride. Riders are responsible for accommodations and mechanical support. The ride is open to all bicyclists 14-years of age or older.

Pre-registration is required by July 1, 2005. Registration can be completed online by visiting www.MickelsonTrail.com and by following the "Trail Trek" link. Materials for registering through the mail are available by calling the Black Hills Trails office at (605) 584-3896 or by printing the registration form found on the trail website.

With the holidays fast approaching, Noem added that a Trail Trek registration makes a great holiday gift. "This holiday season, consider registering the bicycling enthusiasts in your family for Trail Trek," he said. "It's a gift they will never forget and an experience they will take with them always."

For more information on the Mickelson Trail, visit www.MickelsonTrail.com or contact the Black Hills Trails office at (605) 584-3896.

-GFP -

Spring Turkey Season Proposed

PIERRE, S.D. - Fewer one-tag licenses and more two-tag licenses have been proposed for the prairie units of South Dakota's 2006 spring turkey season. Like last year, archers and Black Hills turkey hunters will be able to purchase one licenses that is valid for the harvest of one male turkey.

All three seasons are scheduled to run from April 8 through May 21, although this time period is split in half in some prairie units in eastern S.D. Separate pools of licenses are available for each of the split seasons.

Total licenses available in Prairie units under this proposal would include:

3, 013 resident and 101 nonresident one-tag "male turkey" licenses.

3,660 resident and 294 nonresident two-tag "any turkey" licenses.

Changes from last year would include:

Offer residents 759 fewer one-tag "male turkey" licenses and 1,030 more two-tag "any turkey" licenses for the prairie units than in 2005. This would be an overall increase of 1,301 tags or 14 percent.

Offer nonresidents 90 fewer one-tag "male turkey" and 84 more two-tag "any turkey" licenses for the prairie units than in 2005. This would be an overall increase of 78 tags or 13 percent.

Establish new hunting units in Moody, Minnehaha and Jerauld counties as shotgun-only units.

Add Turner County to the area open for archery turkey hunting.

Close Hamlin and Hand counties to archery turkey hunting. These counties are part of a planned research project to evaluate success of Eastern Wild Turkey introductions.

The comment period for this proposal will be open up to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 4. Anyone interested in presenting a comment is encouraged to do so at any time during the comment period by e-mailing [email protected] or writing to Game, Fish and Parks, 523 E. Capitol, Pierre, S.D. 57501. All comments must be received before 5 p.m. and include the person's full name and address. Comments may also be presented in person to the GFP Commission at the time of the public hearing at 2 p.m., Jan. 5, at the Pierre Ramkota.

-GFP-
 

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SD State Parks Seasonal Employment Applications Available

PIERRE, S.D. - According to Game, Fish and Parks officials, applications for summer seasonal employment are now available online at the South Dakota Bureau of Personnel website and at South Dakota One-Stop Career Centers. The state park system is offering several summer employment opportunities in state parks and recreation areas across South Dakota.

Seasonal employment opportunities include seasonal law enforcement, general maintenance, seasonal lead worker, entrance station attendant, maintenance worker, campground attendant, heavy equipment operator and naturalist/programmer positions. Most listings have multiple positions available.

All applicants must be 18 years of age and available to work the normal summer season, mid-May through Labor Day. Applications must be postmarked no later than Feb. 10, 2006. Applications received after the deadline will only be considered for any remaining positions.

Seasonal employment with the South Dakota state park system is also available through Executive Intern Program positions. The application deadline for available summer 2006 positions is Feb. 1. Applications received after that date may or may not be considered.

Applicants for Executive Intern Program positions must meet the following requirements in order to qualify for the program:

1) At the time an application is completed and submitted, the applicant must currently be enrolled at a college, university or vocational-technical school.

2) By the time the internship is to start, applicants must have completed their entire freshman year at their college or university (be classified as at least a sophomore) or have completed not less than one year of study at their vocational-technical school.

Some intern positions have additional requirements that are above and beyond the program's minimum requirements. Listings and specific application information can be found online at www.state.sd.us/bop/Jobs/Intern/home.htm.

For detailed information and a complete job listing, contact any South Dakota One-Stop Career Center office. Job listing information and applications can also be obtained from the South Dakota Bureau of Personnel, 500 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, S.D. 57501. Listings and applications for Game, Fish and Parks are also available online at www.sdgfp.info/Parks by clicking on "Employment and Internships" along the left side.

-GFP-

Hauge Lake Opens to Anglers on Jan. 1

PIERRE, S.D. - Game, Fish and Parks officials say Hauge Lake in Day County, located 1-mile west and 4-miles north of Roslyn, S.D., will open to fishing beginning Jan. 1. The lake was closed to fishing in 2003 so it could be used as a walleye egg source for spawning operations.

"Only 10 percent of this year's walleye eggs taken from Hauge Lake hatched, which indicates the eggs were of poor quality," said GFP Regional Fisheries Manager Mark Ermer of Webster. "Since the eggs are of poor quality, and the lake's water levels are gradually receding, it only makes sense to allow anglers to harvest these fish."

Anglers should keep in mind that the state-wide walleye regulation which allows only one walleye over 20 inches in their daily limit of four fish goes into effect on the same date (Jan. 1). Many of the fish within Hauge Lake are more than 20 inches in length.

-GFP-

Muzzleloader Any Deer Licenses Become Antlerless on Jan. 1

PIERRE, S.D. - Resident muzzleloader deer hunters possessing a muzzleloader "any deer" tag should note that those tags convert to "antlerless" on Jan.1.

South Dakota's muzzleloader season is open through Jan. 31, but the resident muzzleloader "any deer" licenses are only valid for taking an antlered deer through Dec. 31. Once the New Year begins, the "any deer" muzzleloader tags are still valid, but they must be used only for harvesting antlerless deer.

"It is important that hunters possessing these tags take note of this, as the message did not get printed on the 2005 S.D. muzzleloader 'any deer' tags'," said GFP Regional Wildlife Manager Ron Schauer. "Successful applicants were sent an insert along with their tag explaining the license type change, but it is possible some did not read it." The special flyer was entitled "2005 Muzzleloader Deer Units."

Muzzleloader deer hunters who are looking for private land to hunt antlerless deer are reminded that they can add their names, contact information and up to three counties that they are interested in hunting to a web-based list via the GFP website at www.sdgfp.info. Once there, one should hold their cursor over "What's New" and click on the link titled "Antlerless Deer Hunter Program." Landowners interested in contacting deer hunters can access the list for those who are registered.

-GFP-

Fishing Regulation Changes for 2006

PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota anglers will need to be aware of new rule changes that become effective Jan. 1.

"A number of fishing regulation changes for different areas of South Dakota will soon go into effect, and anglers should check if they affect the area or water that they target for their angling adventures," said Game, Fish and Parks Fisheries Administrator Dennis Unkenholz of Pierre.

A summary of South Dakota's fishing regulation changes for 2006 include:

The daily limit for walleye, sauger and walleye-sauger hybrids on all waters of the Missouri River system is now four. The possession limit is 8, except for Lake Oahe where the possession limit is 12.
One walleye, sauger and walleye-sauger hybrid that is 20 inches or longer is allowed in an angler's daily limit. This applies statewide, except for the Iowa and Nebraska boundary waters, as well as different size restrictions for Diamond, Twin and Beaver lakes in Minnehaha County, Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman Dam) in Butte County and Reetz Lake in Day County.
All muskellunge and tiger muskies caught anywhere in the state that measure under 40 inches must be released.
A 15-inch minimum size restriction applies to largemouth bass caught on Sheridan Lake in the Black Hills.
Remove the catch and release restrictions on the Lake Haven Crossing Pond in the Black Hills.
Reinstate seines and dip nets as legal gear for taking rainbow smelt and impose a five-gallon daily limit on the Missouri River.
All trout caught in the reach of Rapid Creek within the boundaries of Meadowbrook Golf Course must be released.
The northern pike size restrictions and special limit on the lakes contained within Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge in Bennett County have been repealed. Standard statewide regulations now apply.
The daily panfish (bluegill, sunfish and their hybrids, crappie and perch) limit in Firesteel Creek from Lake Mitchell to Davison County Road 12 (Loomis Oil Road) changes to 10 daily.
Night spearing is now legal on inland waters from May 1 through Aug. 31 (formerly opened on June 1).
Night spearing of rough fish is allowed on the Nebraska/South Dakota boundary water from April 1 through Aug. 31.
Lakes Whitewood, Preston, Spirit, Albert, John, Mary and Norden have been added to the list of waters open for spearing from Dec. 1 through the end of February.
Change the opening date of game fish spearing on portions of Lakes Francis Case, Sharpe and Oahe from July 1 to June 15.
-GFP-

2006 State Parks Events Calendar Available Online
PIERRE, S.D. - The special events calendar for South Dakota's state parks and recreation areas has grown to include more than 140 events throughout the state for people of all ages, abilities and interests. The calendar of events may be viewed on the state parks website at www.sdgfp.info/Parks by clicking on "Upcoming Events".

The first events of the year begin Saturday, Jan. 7, with two Walk in the Park Programs - "Snowshoe Social" at 1 p.m. at Fort Sisseton Historic State Park near Lake City and "Animal Signatures" at 2 p.m. at Farm Island Recreation Area near Pierre.

More than 55 walks are scheduled in 2006 as part of the Walk in the Park program. The Walk in the Parks are a series of educational programs that are co-sponsored by the S.D. Department of Health and the S.D. Department of Education. Game, Fish and Parks staff and volunteers lead the walks at state parks and recreation areas across South Dakota.

"Participants in the Walk in the Park programs will learn about park history, wildlife, plants and/or outdoor skills and have a chance to take part in outdoor recreation with friends and family," said Linda Sandness, coordinator of visitor services with the Division of Parks and Recreation.

The Walk in the Park schedule complements many long-held annual events, including the Mickelson Trail Trek in September, the Fort Sisseton Festival in June and the Sioux River Folk Fest at Newton Hills in August, as well as many more.

Most events are free with a valid park entrance license. Call the park directly for more information on individual events. For additional information on South Dakota state parks and recreations, visit the state parks website at www.sdgfp.info/Parks.

-GFP-

Prairie Dog Season Unchanged
PIERRE, S.D. - The Game, Fish and Parks Commission made no changes when they set South Dakota's 2006 prairie dog shooting season.

Prairie dogs can be hunted year-round on private land and from Jan. 1 through Feb. 28 and June 15 through Dec. 31 on public land.

"The main point to note is that the season is closed on public land in March, April, May and half of June when prairie dog pups are dependant on adults," said GFP Wildlife Program Administrator Tony Leif.

Within the season dates, prairie dogs can be hunted statewide in South Dakota with no restrictions on limits or shooting hours.

-GFP-

2006 State-Fish Art Contest Calls For Entries
PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota kids have the opportunity to win recognition and prizes while learning about their local state-fish and the conservation of aquatic habitats.

The 8th Annual Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest is open to all students in grades 4 through 12. Entries must be postmarked by March 31, 2006. Winners will be announced Earth Day, April 22, 2006.

"This is a fabulous, educational connection tool where teachers can combine art, writing and science into one activity for their students," said Chad Tussing, education services coordinator for the Department of Game, Fish and Parks. He encourages educators to visit the State-Fish Art website at www.statefishart.com for complete details and to download the free lesson plan.

Students can also learn more about South Dakota's state fish, providing young anglers with a greater understanding of the walleye's life history. "Hopefully, this learning will translate into more informed and successful anglers," Tussing noted.

Entries will be categorized by grade level: 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12. All contestants will receive a certificate of participation. Three winners from each state will be selected on Earth Day, April 22, 2006, plus one winner per grade group (4-6th, 7-9th, 10-12th) for a total of 150 winners.

State winners of the 2006 State-Fish Art Contest will be recognized at Mall of America for their outstanding artwork of their state-fish. A massive art display will feature all the winning artwork from across the country and an Award Ceremony on July 29th will recognize the talented young artists.

Winning designs will also be featured on the official State-Fish Art website, www.statefishart.com. An outstanding piece of artwork in each grade category will be awarded the top honor as "Best in Show" for 2006. One "art-gallery caliber" entry will win the 2006 Art of Conservation Stamp Award and become the 2006 release of Wildlife Forever's conservation stamp program.

For more information, call toll free (877) FISH-ART (877-347-4278) or visit the website at www.statefishart.com.

-GFP-
 

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January 2, 2006

· State Parks Host First Special Events of the New Year

· 2005 Licenses Valid Through End Of January 2006

· Annual Youth Goose Hunt Scheduled For Jan. 6

· East River Any Deer License a Challenge to Draw in Some Units

· Expired CRP-An Opportunity for Additional Grazing Acres?

· No Changes For 2006 Spring Goose Conservation Order

State Parks Host First Special Events of the New Year

PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota state parks will kick off the new year with two Walk in the Park programs that allow participants to experience the sights and sounds of nature during a South Dakota winter.

The following Walk in the Park programs will take place on Jan. 7:

· "Snowshoe Social" Walk in the Park, 1 p.m. at Fort Sisseton Historic State Park near Lake City. Staff will teach basic snowshoeing skills and lead a nature walk through the area. Snowshoes will be provided. In the event of no snow, a hike will be held. Participants are asked to meet at the North Barracks. Info: (605) 448-5474.

· "Animal Signatures" Walk in the Park, 2 p.m. at Farm Island Recreation Area near Pierre. The hour-long guided walk will take participants on the island's trails as they look for signs of animals and discuss the natural history of the area. The walk will start at the island trailhead. Info: (605) 773-2885.

There is no cost to participate in the programs, although a valid park entrance license is required. Participants should dress appropriately for the weather.

The Walk in the Park programs are a series of educational, guided hikes held throughout the year in South Dakota state parks and recreation areas. Park staff and volunteers lead the programs, which are co-sponsored by the S.D. Department of Health and the S.D. Department of Education. For more information on the Walk in the Park programs and for a full listing of events for 2006, visit the state parks website at www.sdgfp.info/Parks or call (605) 773-3391.

-GFP-

2005 Licenses Valid Through End Of January 2006
PIERRE, S.D. -- South Dakota hunters and anglers are reminded that their 2005 South Dakota hunting and fishing licenses are valid through Jan. 31, 2006, dependent upon seasons dates.

"An example would be for Canada geese, which closes Jan. 22 in Canada goose unit 4 (Bennett County) and closes Jan. 24 in Canada goose unit 2," said Licensing Supervisor Scott Simpson. "

Hunters should also remember that they still need their federal waterfowl stamp and state migratory bird certification when hunting waterfowl during the January seasons. Federal waterfowl stamps that are valid for ongoing waterfowl season are valid until June 30, 2006.

Hunters are also reminded that their 2005 licenses can be used through Jan. 31 for hunting predators, varmints, rabbits and squirrels.

General hunting and fishing licenses for 2006 went on sale Dec. 15.

As before, the new licenses will have an extended expiration date. The 2006 licenses will remain valid through Jan. 31, 2007.

-GFP-

Annual Youth Goose Hunt Scheduled For Jan. 6

PIERRE, S.D. - Youth hunters have a chance to experience goose hunting and learn some of its techniques during the annual youth goose hunt held north of Pierre.

Kids interested can get details and register at 6 p.m., Friday Jan. 6, at the Pierre Ramkota. The hunt is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 7, and Sunday, Jan. 8.

For details on this event and for information on sign-up, contact Wicker Bill Crist at (605) 224-0681 or (605) 222-9457.

Youth participants need to be licensed to hunt waterfowl by having a S.D. small game license and state migratory bird certification.

-GFP-

East River Any Deer License a Challenge to Draw in Some Units

PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota deer hunters are enthusiastic collectors of guns, old licenses and trophy antlers. They may also collect preference points for a big game drawing, although usually with less enthusiasm.

Preference points are issued to individuals who are unsuccessful in the first choice for the first drawing for licenses in any big game season with limited licenses. In most cases, a preference point insures that an individual will draw a license the next year. However, in some East River Deer units the collection of preference points may grow even more.

"Data from the first 2005 East River deer drawing shows that four applicants needed to accrue six years of preference to draw an 'any deer' license," said GFP License Office Supervisor Scott Simpson. "There are certain units East River where we annually receive far more applications than we have licenses available. Preference is never a guarantee that an individual will draw a license the next year, and in these particular units that rings very true."

Six years was the most preference needed, and all four applicants were successful.

Of the remaining 64 applicants with four or more years of preference, 17 collected five years of preference points (13 successful), and 47 people had acquired four years of preference (33 successful).

These figures highlight the difficulty an individual can have drawing a license in certain popular units," Simpson said. "There are options that can be considered."

He noted that East River deer preference points can be used for any East River deer unit, so hunters are not restricted to the unit for which the preference was accrued. They may consider finding access in a hunting unit that is less popular and then applying in that unit. Two-tag licenses often have fewer applicants than one-tag licenses. Applicants may also continue to apply for a popular unit, waiting for the luck of the draw, and make an "antlerless" deer license their second choice. Odds of drawing this license as a second choice are still very good and will give the individual an opportunity to hunt that fall.

The breakdown for 2005 East River deer applicants with three or less years of preference included:

· 3 years preference: 333 applicants, of which 256 were successful.

· 2 years preference: 1,233 applicants, of which 1010 were successful.

· 1 year of preference: 9,319 applicants, of which 8,394 were successful.

· Applicants with no preference: 29,047, of which 23, 562 were successful.

How does the drawing work? A South Dakota limited-license drawing is broken down into four sequential categories:

· Landowner preference.

· Nonlandowner preference.

· Nonpreference.

· Second choice.

Each applicant's hunter ID is entered into the drawing for the application that was received, and one additional time for every year of preference that is associated with the application. If a hunter is unsuccessful for the preference category under which they entered into the drawing, they fall to the next category as long as licenses are remaining. Finally, if an unlucky hunter passes through the nonpreference group and second choice without successfully drawing a license, a refund is issued and another preference point is awarded for next years drawing.

-GFP-

Expired CRP-An Opportunity for Additional Grazing Acres?

PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota producers will soon have to make some important land management decisions, as approximately 730,000 acres of marginal cropland enrolled into the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) are set to expire in the fall of 2007.

"Many producers will have an interest in re-enrolling current CRP acres back into the program, as they have benefited from the consistent income and have personally observed the wildlife habitat and other environmental advantages of CRP on the landscape," said Game, Fish and Parks Habitat Biologist Chad Switzer of Huron. "Others will likely convert expired CRP back into cropland, while some may desire to incorporate all or portions of their expired CRP into a grazing unit."

Recognizing the wildlife benefits of well-managed grassland, Game, Fish and Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have a strong interest in providing technical and financial assistance to those landowners unsuccessful in re-enrolling their CRP acres and for those who wish to maintain expired CRP grass cover for grazing purposes.

"Producers interested in taking advantage of expired CRP for additional grazing acres will likely need to examine fencing and livestock watering needs", Switzer said. "Both GFP and USFWS have private land programs in place to provide cost share for permanent fencing materials, including both perimeter and cross fences, and for water development to facilitate proper grazing management."

Priority will be given to those projects that are in close proximity to other well-managed grassland habitat, natural wetland complexes and for those producers interested in implementing a managed grazing system.

Producers interested in learning more about this opportunity should contact GFP at (605) 773-3658 (Pierre Office), (605) 353-6699 (Huron Office), or the USFWS in Brookings at (605) 697-2500.

-GFP-

No Changes For 2006 Spring Goose Conservation Order

PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota's 2006 Spring Light Goose Conservation Order has been set with no changes from last year. The season opens Feb. 1 and continues through May 8, 2006.

As before, the action still allows the taking of snow geese, blue geese and Ross' geese with the same requirements and restrictions as during regular waterfowl seasons, except that electronic calls and shotguns capable of holding more than three shells are allowed.

Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset with a daily limit of 20 and an unlimited possession.

Residents must have a combination or small game license, plus the state migratory bird certification stamp.

Nonresident adults will need a South Dakota nonresident spring light goose license ($45). Nonresident youth light goose licenses (ages 12-15) cost $25. The migratory bird certification is included as part of these licenses, so no additional stamps or certification are required. The nonresident licenses are valid for the entire conservation order.

"The federal waterfowl stamp is not required, as it is a conservation order and not a regular waterfowl season," noted GFP Waterfowl Biologist Spencer Vaa.

Licenses will be available over the counter at South Dakota license agents and via credit card through the GFP online license system available under the link, "Licenses and Reservations" at www.sdgfp.info.

Hunters are reminded that South Dakota's 2005 licenses expire Jan. 31, 2006, so anyone wishing to hunt during the conservation order will need to purchase the necessary 2006 hunting license/certificate.

The light goose harvest during the 2005 Conservation Order was 116,000.
 
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