Game, Fish, & Park News

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Reservation Opening Dates 2018
  • Open House Weekend – Feb. 17
  • Memorial Day – Feb. 24
  • Father’s Day – March 17
  • Fourth of July – March 31
  • Labor Day – June 2

Game, Fish and Parks Launches 100 Years of Tradition

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) announced today that the next couple of years will be dedicated to celebrating 100 Years of Tradition. In 1918, South Dakota established its first pheasant hunting season which was held in Spink County in 1919. Also, in 1919, Custer State Park was named the first official state park.

“In South Dakota, we know that traditions come in all forms of outdoor recreation,” stated Kelly Hepler, department secretary. “Over the next two years, we will highlight our hunting, camping and outdoor recreational traditions as well as yours, but also focus on where we all want to go in the next 100 years.”

To kick things off, GFP will showcase 100 Years of Tradition at the 2018 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, Feb. 16-18. Department staff will be located in the concourse as well as at Booth 1706. Commemorative 100 year hats will be given away throughout the event and staff will be selling hunting, fishing and park entrance licenses on site. Other prizes will also be given away.

“With celebrating 100 years, there will be a strong digital push using #MySDTradition; focusing on the outdoor opportunities that provide us all with great memories of the past. As we reach 100 years of pheasant hunting and state parks in South Dakota, we encourage our recreational users, residents and nonresidents, to take us for a trip down memory lane. We want to learn about your new and old traditions and how they got started,” stated Hepler.

In addition, two new partnerships are underway with South Dakota breweries and the South Dakota RV industry. The New Brew Competition asks all breweries in South Dakota to develop a brew honoring the 100 year celebration and focusing on the close relationship with nature, strong ties to community and how the outdoors play a strong role in our future. A Request for Proposals (RFP) was sent to all South Dakota RV dealers this week requesting a donation of a new camper to be given away in 2019.

Additional events, partnerships and opportunities to commemorate the 100 years will continue to be announced as they are finalized.

For more details on how you can get involved, visit https://gfp.sd.gov/100-years/.

Enjoy Eagles and Bagels at Oahe Downstream Recreation Area

PIERRE, S.D. – Visitors of the Oahe Downstream Recreation Area near Fort Pierre have the opportunity to learn about the park’s winter residents and enjoy a snack on the 16th Annual Eagles and Bagels Walk in the Park on Saturday, Feb. 3.

“This is a good opportunity for participants to get out and enjoy our South Dakota winter and view our nation’s bird – the Bald Eagle,” said Pat Buscher, Oahe Downstream district supervisor.

Program attendees will learn about eagles from a program presentation and then have the opportunity to view and ask questions about the bald eagles on a guided walk.

The program begins at 9 a.m. CST at the Oahe Downstream Group Lodge. Information will be presented highlighting eagles, their habitat and tips and proper conduct for viewing and photographing.

The group will travel into the park for a two mile guided walk (weather permitting) to observe the birds in their natural setting. The hike will include a number of stops to view the birds and answer questions. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars, cameras, comfortable hiking shoes and cold weather clothing.

Following the hike, guests are invited back to the lodge for snacks and refreshments sponsored by Lynn’s Dakotamart.

“Last year’s hike attendance was great,” said Buscher. “We pack the lodge nearly every year and enjoy seeing more families attend, as this walk is stroller-friendly.”

For those who are not sure they can complete the entire distance, a shuttle is available.

The Oahe Downstream campgrounds are currently closed to vehicle traffic to protect the roosting eagles. Walkers and cross-country skiers are allowed into these areas, although they must be careful not to disturb the roosting eagles. If disturbed, the eagles may abandon their roosts and use up valuable food reserves.

There is no charge for the guided walk, but a park entrance license is required and available at the park. For more information, call 605.223.7722.

The Oahe Downstream Recreation Area is located five miles north of Fort Pierre off SD highway 1806.

For more information on state park programs, visit gfp.sd.gov or call 605.773.3391.

Fort Sisseton Festival Vendor Applications Available

PIERRE, S.D. – Vendors interested in having a booth at the 2018 Fort Sisseton Historical Festival have until March 14 to submit an application. Applications are available for vendors of concessions and rendezvous. There will not be an arts and crafts show. The annual festival is scheduled for June 1, 2 and 3, 2018.

Food vendors are given the option of a full-menu major food booth or a one menu item specialty food booth. Booths are outdoor spaces.

For those who sell and make authentic historical items, the V. M. Starr Rendezvous at the Fort Sisseton Festival provides a unique marketplace for goods. Vendors or traders in the rendezvous camp are required to keep the historical theme by limiting merchandise sold and displayed to only historically appropriate items. Other items, such as clothing, lodges, display racks and cooking fires must also be period correct, reminiscent of an 1840s Plains rendezvous.

Booths are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CDT on Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT on Sunday. Additional hours are at the vendor’s discretion.

For more information about hours or set-up and take-down times at the Fort Sisseton Historical Festival or for a vendor application, please contact Fort Sisseton Historic State Park at 605.448.5474, email fortsisseton@state.sd.us or visit gfp.sd.gov.

Bear Butte State Park Fire Update

Bear Butte State Park, S.D. – The Bear Butte State Park Fire reached full containment at 2:00 a.m. MST on Sunday, Jan. 28. The park east of Highway 79 will remain closed until Tuesday, Jan. 30.

The fire was last determined to be 150 acres as reported by Great Plains Fire Information. No structures were lost during the fire and the bison in the park were not affected. The fire did not reach their winter pasture where they were located.

Bear Butte State Park west of Highway 79, where the horse camp and Bear Butte lake campground are located remains open.

The Bear Butte hiking trail will be closed until further notice. Parks officials need time to assess the fire damage before reopening the trail.

The fire received over an inch of snow during the night which aided suppression efforts.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

GFP Seeking Comments on Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goat Management Plans

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) is currently seeking public comments on two different big game management plans.

All individuals interested in the draft version of the bighorn sheep management plan have through Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, to provide comments.  Written comments on the plan can be sent to 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, South Dakota 57501, or emailed to BighornSheepPlan@state.sd.us and must include your full name and city of residence. A final version of the revised plan, which includes consideration of public comment, is scheduled to be presented to the GFP Commission at the April meeting in Rapid City.

The other drafted management plan includes one on mountain goats. All individuals interested in mountain goat management have through Sunday, March 18, 2018, to provide comments. Written comments on the plan can be sent to 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, South Dakota 57501, or emailed to MountainGoatPlan@state.sd.us and must include your full name and city of residence. A newly developed final plan, which includes consideration of public comment, is scheduled to be presented to the GFP Commission at the May meeting in Custer.

To request a printed copy of either of these drafted management plans, please call 605.773.3387 or download them online at https://gfp.sd.gov/management-plans/.

GFP Commission Proposes Catch and Release Rule for Muskellunge

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission rejected a petition to increase the minimum length limit for muskie and tiger muskie fisheries in South Dakota. Instead, the GFP Commission proposed changing the harvest restrictions for these fish from a statewide 40 inch minimum length limit and a daily limit of one fish, to a catch and release only.

A petition was submitted to the GFP Commission requesting that the length limit for harvesting a muskie be increased from the current 40 inches to 50 inches. Currently, South Dakota has five lakes that are managed for this fish species. They are Lynn and Middle Lynn in Day County, West Highway 81 in Kingsbury County, Sinai in Brookings County and North Island Lake in McCook and Minnehaha Counties.

Muskie populations in these lakes are supported by stocking 9-12 inch fish every other year. Muskies over 50 inches have been documented in lakes with a longer history of muskie management, such as Lynn Lake.

The GFP Commission will consider adopting the catch and release regulation on March 1-2, 2018, at the Pierre RedRossa Convention Center. To comment in person, the public hearing will be held March 1 at 2 p.m. CST. Individuals can also provide written comments on commission rule proposals by sending them to 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501, or via email to wildinfo@state.sd.us. 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 meet the submission deadline of 72 hours before the public hearing (not including the day of the public hearing) per HB 1006.

Custer State Park Interior Roads Temporarily Closed Due to Logging Activity

PIERRE, S.D. – Salvage timber logging is set to begin in Custer State Park on Wednesday, January 24. Due to visitor safety and the heavy flow of truck traffic, all interior gravel roads in the park will be closed until further notice.

Road closure signs will be located at the junction for Oak Draw and Fisherman Flats Road on the Wildlife Loop Road, and on Highway 87 South at the turnoff for North Lame Johnny Road.

Park officials will continuously monitor and evaluate the closures based on logging activity, with all roads being reopened for the camping season.

6,261 acres will be logged within the Legion Lake Fire burned acreage aiding in long term forest health sustainability, reducing the fuel intensity of future wildfires and insect encroachment.

Logging operations within the park will run seven days a week.

GFP Commission Makes Changes to Limited Draw Preference Points

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission changed the way preference points effect 36 limited draw seasons at their January Commission meeting.

The Commission decided to take the number of times a person is in the draw and cube that number (number of preference points + 1 for the current application). This adjustment is intended to provide those hunters with a higher number of preference points a greater chance of drawing a limited license than currently exists.

“The drawing will, essentially, be run the exact same way as before,” said GFP licensing supervisor, Shon Eide. “We will still have the same breakdown of preference point pools for every season, however, now we will cube the number of times the person’s name is in the draw before that draw is run.”

While this will improve the odds for people with a higher number of preference points drawing a license, it will not guarantee them a license.

“This doesn’t change the drawing to a true top down preference point system,” Eide said. “A hunter with the most preference points would still not be guaranteed a license before another hunter with less preference points who is in the same draw pool, but their odds of drawing a license would be increased over someone else in the draw pool with fewer preference points.”

The cubing of preference points also does not impact the price of preference points or the number of preference points a hunter can acquire in any given year.

The cubed preference point system will first be applied to the 2018 elk and Gavin’s Point paddlefish snagging drawings and then used for all limited draw seasons. It will not be used for special buck, Francis Case paddlefish snagging or spring turkey drawings until 2019.

For a more information on preference points, please visit https://gfp.sd.gov/preference-points/.

Oakwood Lakes State Park to Host Winter Events

PIERRE, S.D. – Oakwood Lakes State Park will host a weekend of winter fun with the Cool Kids’ Classic Fishing Derby and the Groundhog Day Ski Event on Jan. 27 and 28, respectively.

“These events are a great way for the entire family to get active, get outside and have fun at the park,” said Becky Graff, district park manager at Oakwood Lakes State Park. “The park offers many opportunities for outdoor winter recreation that families can enjoy.”

On Jan. 27, children under age 14 are invited to take part in the Cool Kids’ Classic Ice Fishing Derby. Registration begins at 11 a.m. CST at the Welcome Center. Bait is furnished and event staff will drill holes in the ice as needed. Fishing will take place in designated areas from 12 to 2 p.m. CST with weigh-in to follow. Winners will be announced at the award ceremony following fishing. Snacks will be available throughout the day, and numerous door prize drawings will be held.

On Jan. 28, the Groundhog Day Ski Event will feature a non-competitive cross-country ski poker run and a non-competitive snowshoe poker run. Prizes will be awarded in numerous categories. The day also features the annual Sons of Norway Barnelopet Children’s Ski Run. This event is free for kids 13 and under.

Registration for the ski events begins at the park shop at 12:30 p.m. CST. The event will start at 1:30 p.m. CST. Cookies, hot chocolate and various Norwegian treats will be served throughout the day. Ski rentals for the event are available from Sioux River Bicycles and Fitness. Snowshoes are available to borrow from the park; call to reserve. In the event of no snow, walks will be held.

The fishing derby is sponsored the Brookings Radio, Gas ‘N Mor, Brookings Hy-Vee Food Store, Porter’s Bait, 1481 Grille, Cubby’s, Sioux River Outfitters, Runnings, CC Bar and Grill, Oakwood Lake Development Association and The Ridge.

The cross-country ski tour is sponsored by the Sons of Norway, Sioux River Bicycles and Fitness, Brookings Radio, 1481 Grille and The Ridge.

Park entrance licenses are required to enter the park and will be available for purchase. For additional information on the weekend’s events, call Oakwood Lakes State Park at 605.627.5441. For a calendar of other upcoming special events in South Dakota’s state parks and recreation areas, visit gfp.sd.gov.

Wildlife Diversity Small Grant Proposals Being Accepted

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Wildlife Diversity Program is accepting proposals for the Wildlife Diversity Small Grants Program. This program provides funding for researchers, educators and naturalists to carry out projects focused on native wildlife.

Funding for the 2018 Small Grants Program totals $25,000 for projects that are focused on monitoring and inventory of native wildlife species and their habitats.

Wildlife Diversity Small Grants have funded education, research and monitoring projects focused on native wildlife and habitats since 1997. A wide range of projects has been completed to date, ranging from spider surveys of the Fort Pierre National Grasslands to assessing the risk of plague in black-footed ferrets.

GFP recognizes that there is a pool of talent and expertise outside of the agency that can be beneficial to the mission of the Wildlife Division.

“By making small grants available, we are able to utilize this talent and expertise,” said wildlife biologist Casey Heimerl. “The diverse projects that have been completed in the last 21 years have resulted in numerous publications in scientific journals, popular educational products and new information on native wildlife species and their habitats.”

Proposals are due by Friday, February 16, 2018.

For more information, contact the Wildlife Diversity Program at 605.773.4345 or email Casey.Heimerl@state.sd.us. Additional information and grant application forms can be found at gfp.sd.gov/small-grants-program.

 

GFP Commission Proposes No Wake Zones at Shadehill and West Bend

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission proposed to establish “no wake zones” on Shadehill Reservoir in Perkins County and on West Bend Recreation Area in Hughes County.
The proposed Shadehill Reservoir no wake zone would encompass the bay where the west boat ramp is located to slow boating traffic near the boat ramp and create a safer environment to launch boats.
The proposed West Bend no wake zone would front approximately 400 yards of shoreline along which a popular campground is located. The no wake zone would create a safer environment for swimmers and beach users who use the campground waterfront.
The GFP Commission will finalize these proposals on March 1-2, 2018, at the Pierre RedRossa Convention Center. To comment in person, the public hearing will be held March 1 at 2 p.m. CST. Individuals can also provide written comments on commission rule proposals by sending them to 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501, or via email to wildinfo@state.sd.us. 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 meet the submission deadline of 72 hours before the public hearing (not including the day of the public hearing) per HB 1006.

GFP Commission Proposes Changes to Oakwood State Park Hunting Restrictions

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission proposed the use of shotguns using shotshells, crossbows and bows while hunting in Oakwood State Park at their January meeting.
In recent years, additional campgrounds, roads and a welcome center have been added at Oakwood, diminishing the area where rifle hunting is safe.
The GFP Commission will finalize these proposals on March 1-2, 2018, at the Pierre RedRossa Convention Center. To comment in person, the public hearing will be held March 1 at 2 p.m. CST. Individuals can also provide written comments on commission rule proposals by sending them to 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501, or via email to wildinfo@state.sd.us. 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 meet the submission deadline of 72 hours before the public hearing (not including the day of the public hearing) per HB 1006.

GFP Commission Proposes Additional Big Horn Sheep Hunting Unit

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission proposed to establish a new hunting unit for bighorn sheep in Pennington County east of the Cheyenne River and in Jackson County north of the White River; excluding Badlands National Park.
With the proposed new hunting unit, a total of four licenses would be available for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Three licenses would be available in Unit 2 (Custer County west of Highway 79) and one license for the newly proposed unit. The area comprising Unit 1 in Pennington County remains closed.
One bighorn sheep license is allocated as an auction license if a minimum of three bighorn licenses are approved by the GFP Commission. The Commission authorized this auction license to be valid for Unit 2.
The season will run Sept. 1 – Dec. 31, both for 2018 and 2019.
The GFP Commission will consider adopting this new bighorn sheep hunting unit on March 1-2, 2018, at the Pierre RedRossa Convention Center. To comment in person, the public hearing will be held March 1 at 2 p.m. CST. Individuals can also provide written comments on commission rule proposals by sending them to 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501, or via email to wildinfo@state.sd.us. 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 meet the submission deadline of 72 hours before the public hearing (not including the day of the public hearing) per HB 1006.

GFP Commission Finalizes Duck Hunting Season

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission adjusted the season dates of the Low Plains South duck hunting zone for the 2018 hunting season; the start date was changed to the fourth Saturday of October from the second Saturday of October.
The GFP Commission also increased the daily bag limit of pintails from one to two.
2018 duck hunting season dates are:
  • High Plains Zone: Oct. 13, 2018 – Jan. 17, 2019
  • Low Plains North and Low Plains Middle Zone: Sept. 29 – Dec. 11, 2018
  • Low Plains South Zone: Oct. 27, 2018 – Jan. 8, 2019

GFP Commission Changes the Early Fall Goose Season and Units

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission made changes to the early fall Canada goose hunting seasons at their January meeting.
The Commission reduced the daily limit of Canada geese during the early fall Canada goose hunting season from 15 geese in 2017 to eight in 2018 with a possession limit of 24. The early fall Canada goose hunting season will run from Sept. 1-30, 2018.
The GFP Commission also added Lawrence county to Unit 2 for the 2018-2019 goose hunting seasons.
2018-2019 season dates are:
Canada Geese (and Brant)
  • Unit 1: Oct. 1 – Dec. 16, 2018
  • Unit 2: Nov. 5, 2018 – Feb. 17, 2019
  • Unit 3: Jan. 12-20, 2019
Light Geese
  • Statewide: Sept. 29, 2018 – Jan. 11, 2019
Spring Light Goose Conservation Order
  • Statewide: Feb. 18 – May 7, 2019
White-fronted Geese
  • Statewide: Sept. 29 – Dec. 23, 2018