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GFP Commission Holds January Meeting





PIERRE, S.D.–The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission held their January meeting at the Matthews Training Center in Pierre on Jan. 4-5. The Commission carried over parks proposals from their December meeting and passed several other proposals, which will now be up for public comment.

PARKS PROPOSALS

The Commission continued the discussion to allow for the cancellation of campsites and lodging facilities without fee for a period of time after a reservation is made. After that period has lapsed, a fee of one-half of the first night’s camping or lodging fees would be assessed for both types of overnight use.

The Commission also continued to discuss two administrative rules to align business practices and requirements for license agents in preparation of launching a new online system. Go Outdoors South Dakota launched December 15, 2021. This system combines the purchases of hunting and fishing licenses with our state parks camping reservations and other purchases.

For more information on these proposals, visit gfp.sd.gov/commission/information/.

WILDLIFE PROPOSALS

The Commission proposed the elk and bighorn sheep hunting seasons for 2022. For more information on these proposals, visit gfp.sd.gov/commission/information/.

Black Hills Elk -The Commission proposed to adjust the total number of available licenses from 425 "any elk" and 700 "antlerless elk" licenses (total of 1,125 licenses) to no more than 600 "any elk" and 1,200 "antlerless elk" licenses (total of 1,800 licenses). These are maximum license allocation numbers, and actual licenses to be made available to hunters will depend on population objectives and status of elk numbers.

The Commission will propose actual elk license numbers at their March meeting. Updated population objectives and the recommended number of licenses will be shared at the March Commission meeting once preliminary harvest estimates have been obtained and population modeling exercises have been completed.

The Commission also proposed to modify the boundaries of BHE-H9A and BHE-H9B to correct the unit boundary.

Prairie Elk - The Commission proposed to adjust the number of licenses available from 78 “any elk” and 178 “antlerless elk” licenses (total of 256 licenses) to no more than 100 “any elk” and 300 “antlerless elk” licenses (total of 400 licenses). Like the Black Hills Elk season, the Commission will propose license numbers during their March meeting. These are maximum license allocation numbers, and actual licenses to be made available to hunters will depend on population objectives and status of elk numbers.

The Commission also proposed to modify Unit PRE-9A. This proposal would split the current unit and establish a new unit to include the portion of Meade County. Also proposed was to correct season dates for units PRE - 11D, PRE-35A and PRE-35B.

Archery Elk - The Commission proposed to adjust the number of licenses available from 142 “any elk” and 80 “antlerless elk” licenses (total of 222 licenses) to no more than 200 “any elk” and 150 “antlerless elk” licenses (total of 350 licenses). These are maximum license allocation numbers, and actual licenses to be made available to hunters will depend on population objectives and status of elk numbers.

The Commission will propose more exact license numbers during their March meeting.

Custer State Park Elk - The Commission proposed to adjust the total number of available licenses from 9 "any elk" licenses to no more than 20 "any elk" licenses. These are maximum license allocation numbers, and actual licenses to be made available to hunters will depend on population objectives and status of elk numbers.

More exact license numbers will be proposed at their March meeting.

Custer State Park Early Archery Elk - The Commission proposed adjust the total number of available licenses from 3 "any elk" to no more than 10 "any elk" licenses. These are maximum license allocation numbers, and actual licenses to be made available to hunters will depend on population objectives and status of elk numbers.

More exact license numbers will be proposed at their March meeting.

Bighorn Sheep Season - The Commission proposed to increase the number of “ram bighorn sheep” licenses from 8 to 11. They also proposed to change the mandatory orientation meeting from “preceding the opening day of the season” to “preceding the first day of hunting by the license holder” and to eliminate Unit BHS-ZZ1 for preference points, and to allow the bighorn sheep auction license to be valid for Units 2, 4, and Custer State Park.

Public Waters

The Commission proposed to remove no boating zones and allow for non-motorized watercraft within the Waubay National Wildlife Refuge and the Waubay State Game Bird Refuge.

GFP and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have been working in collaboration to align state and federal regulations within the USFWS Refuge System, resulting in more recreational opportunities within the refuge boundaries.

Additionally, the Commission proposed to establish a no wake zone at a new boat ramp at Lake Poinsett State Recreation Area in Brookings County. The proposal would also modify the no wake zone at Belle Fourche Reservoir in Butte County to include all boat ramps.

Lake Francis Case Walleye Regulations

The Commission accepted a petition to remove the regulation on Lake Francis Case that requires the first four walleyes caught through the ice from the northern Gregory-Charles Mix County Line to the Fort Randall Dam be kept by anglers. Anglers would be able to keep up to any four walleye they catch and length limits would still not apply in this area. The petition cited the reduced opportunity for anglers and local businesses from this current regulation. The petition will now become a formal proposal and will be available for public comment.

Missouri River Pierre Waterfowl Refuge

The Commission proposed to increase the size of the Pierre Waterfowl Refuge. The expansion of this refuge would add the area downriver from LaFramboise Island to the tip of Farm Island on Lake Sharpe. The refuge would also include from Corp Bay to the tip of Peoria Flats on Lake Oahe. The DeGrey Waterfowl Refuge would remain unchanged. This proposal was brought by the Commission in response to a petition submitted regarding this refuge.

Public Comments Currently Being Accepted 

If you would like to comment on any of these proposals, visit gfp.sd.gov/forms/positions. Comments can also be mailed to 523 E. Capitol Ave Pierre, SD

To hear the discussion on these proposals, audio from the meeting is available through South Dakota Public Broadcasting and will soon be available on the GFP website as part of the meeting archive. To see the proposal in its entirety, visit gfp.sd.gov/commission/information.

To be included in the public record and to be considered by the commission, comments must include a full name and city of residence and be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on February 27.

The next GFP Commission meeting will be held March 3-4 in Pierre.