western Regional Advisory panel
January 2013 Summary
Western Regional Advisory Panel
Janaury 24, 2013
Outdoor Campus - Rapid City
Panel Members Present: Kraft, Herschoff, Mayes, Philips, Bies, Alexander
Panel Members unable to attend:Â Nash, McIllravy, Sleep
15 minutes before the meeting was to start the Regional GFP Office took a call notifying us that a hunter had harvested a mountain lion and was coming into the office for the check in. This opportunity was seized and the WRAP members were escorted to the laboratory to witness the check in process as conducted by GFP staff. Several questions were asked by the panel regarding general biology of mountain lions and the use of the data that was collected. Everyone seemed to enjoy this opportunity.
The formal meeting got underway 45 minutes behind schedule once we returned to the conference room. The first agenda item was to review the 2 Statewide meetings held since the last meeting of the WRAP panel. Mike Kintigh provided a review of the Wildlife Damage Management meeting held in Pierre. Panel member Jeff Sleep also attended, but was absent today. WRAP members were most interested in elk depredation issues and what may change with our programs on that front. Member Rolf Kraft then lead a review of the Access meeting he attended in Aberdeen. Regional Program Manager Tyrell Schmelz was also present and added some discussion to the review of the meeting. It was suggested that GFP hold an Open House on the subject of our Access programs in the near future!
The next item on our agenda was to review the draft Big Horn Sheep management plan. This was intended to be our primary discussion topic as a review by the WRAP panel was a requirement of finalizing this plan. Regional Program Manager John Kanta was present to lead this discussion.
Copies of the draft management plan were made available to all panel members prior to the meeting and an additional copy was provided at the meeting. Kanta initiated the discussion with an over view of our current Big Horn Sheep populations, the history behind them, primary issues we face with them and generally what we hope to accomplish with the new management plan.
Panel members remained very engaged throughout the discussion asking several questions and making several comments. In regards to habitat manipulation to improve areas for Big Horn Sheep, it was suggested by the panel that GFP work more closely with the USFS to create more open areas suitable for Sheep production. It was suggested that increased efforts at wild fire prevention and reduced timber logging have dramatically changed the landscape over time. Ponderosa Pine stands are denser and more widespread than they have ever been. Surface water has declined as has grass/forb production. The panel in general supported a "thinner" forest as being healthier overall and more beneficial to all species of wildlife. It was suggested that at a future meeting, perhaps the USFS could attend and engage in a discussion on managing timber - how GFP could "help" them open things up more. The underlying thought was can we help USFS defend against timber sale litigation and speed the harvest up?
Within the draft management plan, potential Big Horn Sheep sites were discussed and evaluated. Panel members offered several suggestions as to other locations they felt had the appropriate terrain for sheep. The overriding comment from the panel was we should focus on more remote locations within the Hills to start new sheep subherds. Kanta recognized these areas and pointed out the difficulties identified previously in each. Factors such as proximity to housing developments, domestic sheep herds, canopy coverage, private ownership vs public lands and proximity to highways were discussed. One idea voiced was that creating a herd that was not hunted - to be used as a source of future introductions / supplements to other herds may not be a bad idea.
The panel was very interested in the issue of disease within our Big Horn Sheep. Many questions were asked relative to research and development of vaccinations to reduce this problem were asked.
The auction tag was discussed. Panel members in general supported the idea of the auction tag and it's potential to generate more funding for Big Horn Sheep management. They especially liked the idea that giving up one tag now may result in many more tags being available to residents in the future.
The discussion on the Big Horn Sheep draft management plan concluded with the full support of the WRAP panel.Â Â The panel felt GFP was on the right track with the plan and should continue forward.
Having some time remaining on our schedule the panel entered into brief discussions on deer management on the prairie, mountain lions, elk and wolf. Several panel members were concerned about the effects of EHD on the prairie deer herds and asked we look at cutting back tags in certain areas. General questions on the mountain lion season were asked. Our elk management was discussed with several panel members concerned about letting the herd build too much from current levels. There was interest in the plans for the Wind Cave elk with extra concern over how those elk may impact private lands.
The panel as a whole was concerned with wolf becoming established in SD and urged us to work with the USF&W to get the wolf delisted in SD as soon as possible.
The next meeting of the WRAP panel was set for April 25th 2013, 10AM to 3PM and will be held at the Outdoor Campus West again.