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GFP Commission Holds March Meeting





PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission held their March meeting at the Missouri Avenue Events Center in Pierre on March 3-4. The Commission carried over proposals from their January 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 as part 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/.

Additionally, the Commission concurred with the department that an entrance license should be required to access the boat ramp at Lake Vermillion. 

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 450 "any elk" and 490 "antlerless elk" licenses (total of 940 licenses) to 535 "any elk" and 730 "antlerless elk" licenses (total of 1,265 licenses).

The Commission also proposed to modify the boundaries of BHE-H9A and BHE-H9B to correct the unit boundary and to establish BHE-H4B.

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 102 “any elk” and 175 “antlerless elk” licenses (total of 277 licenses).

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. Finally, the Commission established units and season dates for PRE-35C, PRE-35D, PRE-35E, and PRE-35F for antlerless elk licenses.

Archery Elk - The Commission proposed to adjust the number of licenses available from 147 “any elk” and 70 “antlerless elk” licenses (total of 217 licenses) to 182 "any elk" and 90 "antlerless" (total of 272 licenses).

Custer State Park Elk - The Commission proposed to adjust the total number of available licenses from 9 "any elk" licenses to no more than 12 "any elk" licenses.

Custer State Park Early Archery Elk - The Commission proposed to adjust the total number of available licenses from 3 "any elk" to 4 "any elk" licenses.

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.

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

Current walleye regulations for the lower portion of Lake Francis Case, from the northern Gregory-Charles Mix County Line to Fort Randall Dam, require the first four walleyes caught to be kept and the 15-inch minimum length limit does not apply, while fishing through the ice. The Commission accepted a petition in January and proposed removing the regulation that requires the first four walleyes caught through the ice to be kept by anglers. The petition cited the reduced opportunity for anglers and local businesses from this current regulation. At their March meeting, the Commission modified the proposal to also include removing the exemption to the 15-inch minimum length limit while fishing through the ice. By removing both these special regulations, harvest regulations would be the same for all portions of Lake Francis Case.

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.

Indian Springs/Antelope Lake

The Commission proposed to change the date requirements where no shooting from a boat is allowed on Indian Springs/Antelope Lake in Clark County from Oct. 10 - Dec. 31 to Oct. 20 - Dec. 31.

License Allocation

The Commission proposed to remove the requirement for unlimited access permits for archery, muzzleloader, mentor, youth, and apprentice deer license holders to hunt certain deer hunting units and public lands.

They also proposed to limit the number of archery access permits for Unit WRD-27L to no more than 20 "any deer" access permits for residents and no more than 5 "any deer" access permits for nonresidents.

State Migratory Bird Certification

The Commission proposed to remove the inclusion of the state migratory bird certification permit with the nonresident spring snow goose, nonresident early fall Canada goose licenses, nonresident 3-day licenses, nonresident youth waterfowl licenses and decrease applicable license fees by $5 each.

Waterfowl Seasons

The Commission proposed several waterfowl seasons. Some of the highlighted proposed changes to these seasons are:

  • To include mergansers in the daily duck limit bag. Previously, mergansers had separate bag limits.
  • Remove restriction for nonresident hunters in the counties of Beadle, Brookings, Hanson, Kingsbury, Lake, Lincoln, McCook, Miner, Moody, Sanborn, Turner, Union, and Minnehaha counties for the early Canada goose hunting season.

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 April 3.

The next GFP Commission meeting will be held April 7-8 in Watertown.