central Regional Advisory panel

january 29, 2014

Wildlife Division Office, Ft. Pierre

Panel Members Present GF&P Staff Present
Jack Broome - Burke Cliff Stone
Fred Hubbard - Miller Nathan Baker
Herb McClellan - Mobridge Dale Gates
Danielle McGee-Campbell - Onida Emmett Keyser
Leonard Spomer - Pierre Chris Longhenry
Kevin Swensen - Chamberlain Cynthia Longmire
Bill Waeckerle - Akaska Sandi Knippling

Welcome & Introductions
Cliff Stone opened the meeting at 10:00 am, welcomed the panel members, especially new members Danielle and Fred to the Ft. Pierre Wildlife Division Office, introduced Department Staff, and reviewed the agenda.

Panel Member Updates/Issues
Cody Wilson (via email): I have heard support for the game check that was conducted in early November near the dam. With the high level of violations observed, I would encourage a repeat next fall. Our local CO's, Walleser and Martin, are doing a good job and I haven't heard anything negative from the public. Deer numbers in eastern Gregory are still quite low. I support reducing tag numbers. Bobcat harvest seems to be down quite a bit according to Walleser though I can't say that its population related. I would like to see a per person limit (3-5) on bobcat as I get lots of reports of some trappers taking dozens of cats. A trapping seminar last fall boasted a speaker who trapped over a hundred cats the prior season.

Kevin Swenson: Commented on a bobcat by his house, GFP trapped and relocated it. Local area had good duck hunting until the freeze up after Thanksgiving. There was a good ice fishing tournament in our area. He thanked GFP as they knocked the boat ramp down and everyone was appreciative. So this basically gave people better fishing opportunities. There were 99 teams in the tournament. He felt things were Ok on fishing and the average was 2 lbs.

Fred Hubbard: Ice fishing has been pretty good in the Miller area, anglers are catching a few northern pike, walleye and panfish. Pheasant hunting was way down because of lack of pheasants and hunters. Local economy depends on that money from the hunters coming in to the local area. Hunted the last weekend of the season and still harvested some pheasants, but was concerned over the lack of hens. From what I saw, 75% were roosters and 25% were hens. Deer season went well, although he feels that in his county numbers are down.

Bill Waeckerle: Deer numbers are down substantially in Walworth County, hunters report seeing only about a 1/3 of what they have seen in the past. Potter County landowners have about half of what they did have. Still have pheasants but also expressed concern about lack of hens. Walleye fishing has been good. Recently had a kid's tournament with 126 kids, all had a good time and caught a lot of fish.

Jack Broome: Similar to the previous reports, deer and pheasants numbers are down in Gregory County however, there still seems to be good deer numbers in the northwestern part of the county. Ice fishing has been good both on area ponds and on the river around the Platte Winner bridge area. A fair number of panfish limits are being taken in the area. Overall it looks like fishing should be in good shape for the future. While traveling through the county he is seeing lots of prairie chickens and grouse.

Leonard Spomer: Pheasant numbers definitely down considerably, seems like 50-60% in the Pierre area from previous years. However, did find some good pockets of birds on private land. Grouse numbers also seem down. Deer numbers are also definitely down. Has heard some local concern that GFP issued too many tags. Waterfowl has been spotty this year. Birds are pretty educated by the time they get here. Hunters that are field decoying are doing ok, while weekend hunters are struggling. Pass shooting has been OK on certain days/locations. Reservoir froze up, then open and froze again. Fall fishing was not as good as it normally is locally. Ice fishing has been good down on Lake Sharpe in the North Bend area.

Herb McClellan: Agreed with others that pheasant numbers are down. Feels that hatch was late, did see a fair number of birds during the deer season. Ice fishing has been fair. Mobridge recently held their big ice fishing tournament with 500 teams. There is a high demand for any open slots in the tournament, 275 applications were received for 23 spots left. Organizers kept three slots and posted online - all brought high $$. Thirteen states and Canada were represented. Anglers checked in 389 fish, all fish seen were healthy. As noted by others deer numbers are down in the Mobridge area as well. Everything else is pretty good.

Danielle McGee-Campbell: While pheasants are down some, overall they had a pretty good season. Birds seem to be in pockets. Three weeks ago went out and cut low spots and 200-300 birds flew out. We have a huge coyote problem as they are running through cattle at night. Also, we are seeing lots of owls, hawks and eagles. Deer numbers are down. Not seeing hardly any yearlings running around. Fishing is hit and miss, depends where you are at. It's just luck. Cottonwood is looking good for the kids.

Cliff Stone provided the group an overview of the results of the Wildlife Management Institute's review of the Wildlife Divisions big game management, the recent Governor's Pheasant Habitat Summit and a tentative list of Region 2 Open House locations.

Region 2 Regional Conservation Officer Supervisor Dale Gates provided the panel a brief overview of recent changes to the structure of the Regional law enforcement programs. The new structure has three District Conservation Officer Supervisors and promotes more of a District law enforcement team concept. Panel members made a suggestion that the new structure be highlighted in an upcoming issue of the Landowner Matters newsletter.

Missouri River Fisheries - Survey update/Management Plans/Walleye tagging - Chris Longhenry
Chris Longhenry, Senior Wildlife Biologist-Reservoir Fisheries, provided an update on the 2013 reservoir fish population survey data, shared an overview of the fisheries management planning process that is underway, and an update on the results of the first year of the Lake Oahe walleye tagging/movement study and plans for 2014. Chris encouraged the panel members to review the fisheries management plans, on the GFP website, and to provide any comments or thoughts that they may have. Panel member's discussion, comments, and questions included:

  • Suggestion that GFP considers different management strategies for each reservoir. As an example, on several reservoirs there are limited, but at times good crappie fisheries, and that perhaps these should have a reduced limit (versus the statewide limit).
  • Several panel members expressed concern and had questions on walleye survival when caught through the ice in deep water. Chris related results of several studies that looked at hooking mortality from deep water, for saugers their survival was fairly good down to 45 ft.
  • Question on how the shad introduction and shad spawning success was in Lake Oahe this year. Response was there was some reproduction, but that we hoped to see more.
  • Questions/discussion on the walleye tagging study and the pro’s and con’s of the reward system. Chris explained how the return of the reward tags are used to calculate an non-reporting rate for the non-reward tags.

Legislative Update - Emmett Keyser
Assistant Wildlife Division Director Emmett Keyser provided the panel an overview of legislation that the Department is working on/tracking this session. Panel discussion/questions/comments focused on SB-169 dealing with non-meandered waters. Cliff will provide periodic legislative updates to the panel members.

Elk Management Public Opinion Survey - Cynthia Longmire
Human Dimensions Specialist Cynthia Longmire presented the results of a recently completed public opinion survey regarding elk management in South Dakota. The survey included both landowners within/near existing elk units and individuals who had hunted elk or were applying to hunt elk. Panel members had several questions on the survey/survey technique. Panel member Leonard Spomer will be representing the panel on the statewide Elk Management Working Group that will be meeting for the first time in February.

Big Game Management Plans/Antelope - Nathan Baker
Nathan Baker, Region 2 Wildlife Program Manager, shared information with the panel on current big game management and management planning efforts focusing primarily on antelope and deer. Panel member's discussion, comments, and questions included:

  • Questions on the preference point system and if non-residents get preference points. Yes, if they are eligible to apply in the first draw.
  • Several panel members commented that antelope numbers are down considerably in the areas they hunt. Also questions on the effect of the October blizzard.
  • Question on how far antelope travel and if it's possible that they may be responsible for wormwood sage showing up in other parts of the state.
  • Question on the frequency of twins and triplets with antelope. Twins are most common in antelope.
  • Nathan related information on a possible antelope study that will be conducted by the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.
  • Question/discussion on the use of double and triple deer tags. Nathan explained the logic that those tag types are issued during times when additional harvest of antlerless deer is warranted. With deer numbers declining in many parts of the state their use is limited. Panel suggested that you can keep more people hunting by issuing single versus multiple tags.
  • Discussion on the Gregory County elk unit and the recent split from the joint season with Nebraska. 

Like with the fisheries management plans, the draft big game management plans are or will be on our GFP website and the panel members are encouraged to review them and provide comments/suggestions.

Next meeting - discussion was on a summer (June) meeting. Suggestion is to meet at panel member Lyle Perman's ranch and incorporate a field trip into the meeting.

Meeting adjourned at 3:00 PM