Commission meeting archives


August 2013 Commission Meeting

August 1-2, 2013
Watertown, SD

Rules Proposed at this Meeting


Division of Administration Audio

Action Items
Approve minutes of the July 8 meeting
Additional Commissioner Salary Days
License List Requests

  • Huron Chamber & Visitor Bureau for list of 2012 nonresident small game; will send direct mail piece promoting pheasant hunting in Huron area; seeking no fee status; approved
  • Dakota Hunting Guide, Sioux Falls, for list of nonresident big game hunters; solicit readership and subscriptions for "Hunting and Fishing Magazine"; full fee; approved
  • Dakota Hunting Guide, Sioux Falls, for list of resident small game and fishing license holders; solicit subscriptions for "Hunting and Fishing Magazine"; full fee; approved
  • Dakota Hunting Guide, Sioux Falls, for list of resident big game license holders; solicit subscriptions for "Hunting and Fishing Magazine"; full fee; approved

  • Dakota Hunting Guide, Sioux Falls, for list of nonresident small game license holders; solicit subscriptions for "Hunting and Fishing Magazine"; full fee; approved

  • Hills Locker Service, Hills MN, list of resident deer license holders; send flyers promoting business; full fee; approved

  • Yankton Convention and Visitor Bureau for list of paddlefish license holders to do a direct mail promotion to possible paddlefish fishermen; seeking no fee status; approved

Information Item
License Sales Report

  • License sales are now very similar to figures for this same time period in 2012, although resident fishing still about 4% behind

Open Forum Audio

  • Larry Burg from near Wallace; member of Grass Lakes Conservation Club; concerned about tourism industry sending word about high pheasant population if the population is not high and sending out poor information and the wrong message; would like to see message shared to talk more with farmers and thank them if they are allowed to hunt

  • Jim Headley from near White Lake brought an example of gray millet as valuable habitat; also had talked to Tourism official at Pheasant Fest and feels they are promoting deception; also concerned about the number of pen-raised birds brought to preserves and other private interests; preserves promote shooting "wild" birds and feel that may be deceptive and many of those are pen-raised birds

  • John Johnson from Grass Lakes Club; also on GFP advisory panel; studied numbers on Captive Game Bird Sales Report include over 900,000 rooster chicks purchased; happy the Governor is again allowing the Commission to purchase additional public land

  • Bob Weber, Clear Lake, concerned about handicap people access to retrieve game from Walk-In Area and would like to see something allowing the landowner the authority to assist handicap individuals retrieve game

Public Hearing at 2 PM Audio

Finalizations Audio
Waterfowl population update

  • Rocco Murano, Senior Waterfowl Biologist, with 2013 update
  • Pond numbers and waterfowl numbers are high; down 6% from last year but last year was a record and above normal for total ducks; late spring and some of ducks were not in survey area at time of survey
  • Most duck species are well-above long term average
  • Total habitat 6.9 million ponds which is up for 2012 especially in Canada
  • S.D. numbers: only species below long term average is widgeon; mallard, pintail, blue-wing teal and gadwall all doing very well
  • Divers: redheads up, scaup up, canvasback down slightly
  • Total 4.4 million ducks
  • Canada geese 247,000 down 8% from 2012; 164,000 harvest in 2012 was a record; good to see a decrease after explosive growth
  • Just finished Canada goose banding a week ago; normally done in early July so birds are behind in development and molt; banded 1,900 geese to help determine harvest and total population size
  • Last year's banding revealed: harvest rate 20% by far the highest in the Central Flyway but not high enough to significantly drop population; 17% harvest for adults and higher than surround states
  • 12,800 resident duck hunters in 2012 in S.D. which was 5% lower than 2011; number has been going down
  • Pond count 1.5% and 21% above long term average; heavy rains in many parts of the state immediately after pond survey so was probably higher than that
  • Losing CRP acres but did enroll 85,000 acres of CREP along James River; drainage tiles will take a toll on available ponds

Duck Hunting Season

  • Proposed changes from 2012: Increase the scaup daily limit from 4 to 6; Increase the possession limit for ducks, coots, and mergansers from two times (2x) the daily limit to three times (3x) the daily limit as recently approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Staff recommended changes to proposal include reducing the daily limit for scaup from 4 to 3; and increase the daily limit for canvasback from 1 to 2
  • Commission amended original proposal with changes recommended by staff
  • Commission then finalized the rule changes as amended

Goose Hunting Season

  • Proposed changes from 2012: Increase the Canada goose daily bag limit from 3 to 5; Increase the white-fronted goose daily bag limit from 1 to 2; Modify the white-fronted goose season from 86 to 72 consecutive days beginning the last Saturday of September; Increase the possession limit for geese from two times (2x) the daily limit to three times (3x) the daily limit as recently approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Staff recommended change from proposal to increase the Canada goose daily bag limit from 5 to 8, a change that was just approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Central Flyway meeting a few days ago
  • Commission noted public comments that opposed changes in Unit 2 and especially in the Pierre area where the fear is that additional hunting pressure will modify goose behavior to nighttime feeding and less public hunting opportunity
  • Commissioner Cooper asked to amend the Unit 2 and 3 proposal be a daily bag limit of 4 and in Unit 1 the daily bag limit would be 8
  • Roll call vote on this amendment was 6-1 so the amendment passed
  • Commission then finalized the season as amended on a 7-0 vote

Deer Depredation Hunts Audio

  • Proposed changes from 2012: No person may register for more than 10 counties.
  • In recent years, it has been difficult for GFP to find registered individuals that are willing to respond to GFP's request for a depredation hunt in an adequate timeframe, primarily because of weather conditions or the distance needed to travel. By limiting the number of counties to a maximum of 10 counties per individual, GFP anticipates that individuals that entered themselves for depredation hunts will participate at a higher level when called upon.
  • No staff recommended changes from proposal
  • Commission finalized as proposed

State Game Bird Refuges

  • Proposed change from 2012: Modify the Renziehausen Slough State Game Bird Refuge in Brown County by taking out a piece of privately owned land that is currently included in the Refuge and which the landowner has requested be removed from the Refuge
  • No staff recommended changes from proposal
  • Commission finalized as proposed

Hunting Season Proposals Audio
Mountain Lion Hunting Season

  • Mountain lions are native to S.D.; extirpated in late 1800's and early 1900's through bounties and unregulated hunting; prior to 2005 when first regulated season took place there was no structured hunting season; state threatened species in 1978 and became big game animal in 2003
  • Population objective in management plan 150-200; want to reduce the impacts mountain lions are having on prey population, especially deer, elk and bighorn sheep
  • Collect reports on all mountain lion encounters and mortalities; documented mortalities have increased since 1996 correlating with increased population and does include non-hunter mortalities
  • 716 total documented mortalities and 1996
  • Last year licenses sold 4,300 was the highest so far
  • Last year Custer State Park was included as part of total harvest limits; used access permits to limit the number of hunters in the Park at one time, allowed hounds with some hunts; 7 harvested and 6 by hunters using hounds
  • Studied some info on correlation between snow events greater than 1”
  • Research being done on lions and much of hunting season recommendations are based on scientific research
  • This year will continue to capture and radio-collar lions until season starts; total 371 have been marked over the years and most of those in the Black Hills
  • Just wrapping up a study looking at prey selection of lions and in particular bighorn sheep; overall deer species were most sought prey and for bighorn sheep disease was a bigger factor in mortality then lions
  • Doing DNA analysis on lions
  • Two elk projects looking at survival and includes mortality from mountain lions; survival on calves was higher in second year and that data not available yet this year; in CSP survival was comparable to last year
  • Evaluate hunter data, success did drop a little but success is generally low; looking at harvest per unit effort and close to 2,900 hunters were out hunting in the Black Hills this past year; average number days per hunter consistent; can calculate total man days hunted and get figure on harvest per thousand man-days hunted; spiked in 2010 and 2011 and downward trend since
  • Wyoming uses an indicator on lion mortality per square kilometers; once over 8 lions per 1000 square kilometers will see a decreasing population; over last 3-4 years the mortalities have been high enough to impact the population
  • Percent of harvest adult females; can sustain harvest of 10-15% but over that can impact the population; last year 32% of harvest was adult females
  • Female survival is revealed through field surveys with radio-collars; 2011-12 about 65% survival and last year 63%; some research shows survival under 66% lion population will decline
  • Lion population estimate: beginning this year 46 radio-collared lions as part of mark-recapture estimates for adults and sub-adult lions; using traditional estimate formulas 56 was total harvest and 10 with radio collar and using formula come up with 210 lions with plus or minus 90% accuracy; so between 120-300 looking at adults and sub-adults
  • Last projected would have about 180 adults and subadults
  • Early in the year had a high number of sub-adults in the harvest; in 2012 a much more random distribution of adults and sub-adults; used to harvest more adults but last year more sub-adults then adults
  • To test findings went to a third party statistician from another state and confirmed that not using the best methods for population estimates; went to new method for estimates that is more appropriate
  • Total estimate 160 with confidence interval of 110-210
  • Don't feel population can sustain harvest from last year so asking lower harvest limit
  • 160 adults would mean 230 total lions; end up with Jan. 1, 2014 population of 190 total lions
  • If hit harvest limit of 75 next year's limit would be 150 which would be lower limit of mountain lion management population goal
  • Wyoming units bordering SD have harvest of 44 and 47 then up to 70 last year; this next year will have similar limits
  • The management population objective of 150-200 is set based on extensive scientific evaluation of mountain lions and associated prey species as a level that will diminish effect of lions moving out of Black Hills; use of habitat; effect on prey species; interaction with public; and public input
  • Once that population goal is reached there will be further research done to see if management issues are being handled at that level
  • Research in state of Washington looked at what happens when overharvest a lion population in Washington and research showed an increase in problem lions; if bring average age of adult males to a low level in South Dakota there could be an impact in breeding behavior and perhaps impact on young male lions killing kittens; some of research based on low sample size; but big difference is in comparison of mountain lions and habitat in Washington vs. mountain lions and habitat in S.D.; in Washington harvest is done primarily by hound hunters and a selective harvest so taking bigger and older males; that doesn’t happen in S.D. outside of limited opportunity within Custer State Park
  • Ideas brought forward are legitimate and worth of evaluation
  • Staff recommended change from 2012: Decrease the total mountain lion harvest limit from 100 to 75 and the female harvest limit from 70 to 50; Increase the number of hunting intervals when dog hunting is allowed from 3 to 4 and decrease the number of hunting intervals when no dog hunting is allowed from 5 to 4 for Custer State Park. This structure would include four (4) hunting intervals (17 days in length) with each having 30 access permits (no dog hunting allowed) for a total of 120 temporary access permits and four (4) intervals (7 days in length) with each having 4 access permits (dog hunting allowed) for a total of 16 access permits.
    Season: Statewide Dec. 26-March 31 (Black Hills Fire Protection District closed when harvest limit if and when harvest limit is met)
  • Harvest Limit for Black Hills Fire Protection District (includes Custer State Park): 100 total mountain lions or 70 female mountain lions
  • Commission moved the proposal as recommended by staff

Division of Wildlife

Information items
Walk-In-Area 25th Anniversary Audio (starts at the 9:30 mark)

  • Presentation to three contract holders who were part of the original Walk-In Program signup and are still currently enrolled
  • Originally 26 cooperators and 23,000 acres; this year 1500 cooperators and 1.25 million acres are in the program
  • Bud Thorpe from Wilmot
  • Robert Weber from Clear Lake
  • Dwight (and his late father Harold) Wookey from Britton

Bighorn Sheep management update Audio

  • Wild Sheep Working Committee heard there may be connection with Alberta to get transplant sheep; first sheep will go to North Dakota and SD is next on the list for next year
  • A couple other potential sources include a coal mine in British Columbia; also Montana from the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation and take 20 of those to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and another 10 elsewhere

Mountain goat management update

  • Scheduled to bring goats from Utah in early September; hope to get 20-30 and will radio-collar all
  • Release near Needles by Black Elk Wilderness Area
  • Will monitor over the next couple of years to better understand what is happening to the goat population in that area
  • Current population estimate 130 with a population that is slightly increasing
  • Want to evaluate survey and estimation techniques
  • Goal to get population back to a level where can open hunting season; closed since 2009

Glacial lakes fishing report Audio

  • Have had high water levels for several years and at all time high on many; good habitat for fish
  • Good populations of fish and good numbers of anglers; Bitter Lake once a shallow slough and now one of the state's busiest and largest lakes (est. 19,000 acres)
  • Rising water is usually excellent for fish; flooded land makes great fish spawning habitat; walleye levels in Bitter Lake have responded with growth
  • Yellow Perch did not respond the same; good size fish but numbers did not increase; in past 2-3 years the perch population has made a sharp increase
  • Winter pressure has been fairly low; perch are usually the popular fish and since numbers were low it has only been the last couple of years that winter angling on Bitter has increased
  • Catch and harvest of walleye in summer was very decent in early 2000's; with abundant class from 2009 the last year has been very good for walleye; over 30,000 through June
  • Yellow perch had around 100,000 caught two winters ago and 80,000 last winter


  • Was the popular lake before Bitter became so popular; still gets good use
  • Good perch and walleye bite
  • This summer Waubay Lake has been quite a bit slower; white bass bite has been good


  • Has had boating restriction in past, but this past winter the restriction was removed creating more angler use
  • Good catch rate of walleye; two fish daily limit to spread harvest out


  • When these lakes fill stock with walleye fry and get good growth of fish so anglers can use before winterkill takes them out of the population; these waters have seen good use from anglers

Muskellunge management update Audio

  • Brian Blackwell presented
  • Program started in 1975 with 2,000 fish stocked; brought controversy with fear that could harm people and eat all the fish
  • 10 years later citizens complained that about muskies in Amsden Dam
  • Stocked Amsden through 1980s and 1990s; state record set there in 1981; always a few muskies caught there
  • Muskie in five lakes: West 81, Island Lake, Lake Sinai, Amsden and Lynn Lake
  • Don't want to add too many muskies and don't expect any natural reproduction; 1 fish/5 acres
  • Provides diversity of angling and opportunity to catch a trophy fish
  • Manage with 40” minimum length limit; most take picture and release
  • Stock lakes every other year
  • Source for eggs had limit success using own eggs; today get fish from Spirit Lake Hatchery in Iowa; Blue Dog Hatchery gets smaller fish and grows to stocking size; even at small size feed on minnows and grow quickly
  • Muskies stocked at 10-12” in September
  • Creel counts in Lynn Lake most caught in one year 150 in 2009; very difficult to catch
  • Tough for fisheries biologists to sample because there are so few in each lake; have adapted sampling techniques to increase catch and provide better sampling
  • Tested Amsden, West 81 and Lynn Lake right when ice goes off lake; muskie stronger than a northern so anesthetize fish to work with them
  • Nets not only worked well for muskie but also for capturing walleye for spawning
  • Muskies that were caught were up to 45 inches so quality size and shape
  • Plan to continue every other stocking and add more nets for testing lakes and studying muskies in those waters

Review of license fees Audio

  • Additional costs in employee health care last spring came without warning and again next spring added up to $690,000 that GFP has to cover; costs are added to each agency; had planned for additional cost from salary adjustment equaled $460,000
  • Two sources of revenue to cover costs are license fees and federal funding (Pitman-Robertson and Dingel-Johnson)
  • Last time substantial increase in resident fees was 2005; this last legislative session did authorize an additional $1 fee on some hunting licenses for animal damage control funding
  • Nonresident fees 2004-05 there was an increase; 2011 substantial increase on big game licenses; 2013 on Nonresident Small Game and Waterfowl
  • If no change in fees projected revenue around $9.8 million in 2014 for resident sales and $17 million for nonresident; biggest factor is for Nonresident Small Game; just under $27 million total
  • Preference Point Only for big game hunting licenses is $5 currently (over 8,000 in 2012); some states charge fees per preference and different levels for different species
  • Also consider raising resident license fees in light of higher costs of doing business; should fees be raised to catch up to costs or to get a little head and plan for the future
  • Will bring recommendation in October, and hopeful to have better figures on health care costs, that will include license fee increase suggestions

Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration funding

  • Pitman-Robertson excise take on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment
  • Dingel-Johnson for fishing excise tax on sport fishing equipment, import duties on equipment, and on fuel for motorboats
  • These taxes collected by IRS, which transfer money to US Fish and Wildlife Service, who then distribute back to states based on a number of criteria
  • Write grants to access the money; pay 100% of cost for qualifying projects then reimbursed 75% through grant funds
  • PR wildlife dollars up 37% over last year; $9.4 last year; high gun sales have led to more federal money
  • DJ fisheries side not as good; last few years around $4.2-4.7 million and down about 11% so far this year so may dip below $4 million
  • Looking at $4 for DJ funds and $13 for PR funds; funds will cover second half of Fiscal Year 14 and first half of Fiscal Year 15

Game Production Area management in NE SD

  • John Lesner presented information on alternative food plots that are non-row crops
  • Easy to plan and extend the planting season giving a lot of options for food plots
  • Planting these alternates yields a year-round food plot where a crop like corn is gone by the time winter begins
  • Provides good cover for wildlife, also attracts insects which is good protein for pheasant chicks
  • An acre of alfalfa and clover is very attractive to deer; good flood plot will detract deer from ag crops
  • Brassica (turnip, rutabaga, radish, kale) makes a good food plot option and can put a lot of food potential in minimum acreage; deer seek these after first freeze when sugars come out
  • Used trail cam to help gauge pressure on these food plots and saw many deer feeding off tubers on the ground
  • Brassica has additional benefit of releasing nutrients in the ground for other plants to use
  • Volunteer corn can be a problem that is Roundup ready so working on ways to eliminate
  • Proper mixes of vegetation provide cover for pheasant chicks and protection from the elements
  • Dove food plots planted to attract doves and provide hunting opportunity for youth hunters

Division of Parks and Recreation Audio

Action Item
Custer State Park Cabin Transfer

  • Dec. 31, 2029 all cabin leases expire in Custer State Park according to last extension
  • Commission was asked to approve a resolution authorizing transfer of Patsy Stanley Lee's joint interest in a CSP cabin and cabin site to Stacie Moberly
  • Commission approved transfer in the event GFP receives and executed agreement and that all terms and conditions are agreed to

Information items
Review of park fees

  • Last year only had on fee adjustment
  • Had same issue with health care that Wildlife Division had so incurred considerable extra cost that was not planned
  • Camping and park use remains strong and increasing; growth in use and inflation drives operating costs up; one of biggest is cost of electricity; budger $1.6 million for electricity and will need to budget more; age of fleet, mowers, tractors and other equipment is growing and will need to increase capital outlay budget
  • Will bring a recommended package of fee increases that probably will not include any permits but will include camping fees which were last increased in 2011; $1-2 increase depending on license type and campsite location; also increase in camping cabin rental fee, may raise from $37 to $40; $1 hike in bundle of firewood
  • Looking at incentives to move campers from making telephone to online reservations; online more cost effective; make online system more user-friendly and may suggest monetary incentives to use online
  • Fee increases now being contemplated do not take into account future health care costs; Parks Division is largest employer of seasonal help in all of state government so some provisions of future health care could mean a huge expense

Parks Revenue and Visitation Reports

  • Revenue up 6.4% over same time last year; Camping unit down .4%
  • Last year was a record year for camping units so down slightly is still good especially with the cold and wet spring
  • Expect to finish near last year’s record year

Boat Ramp dredging projects

  • Six projects located along Missouri River, four in Pierre area and a result of the 2011 flooding changing channels and affecting boating access
  • Small projects and amount to routine maintenance; process of sucking silt and sediment from bottom and deposting it on an upland site, but complex set of paperwork to get all permissions necessary for water quality, fish and wildlife, and cultural concerns
  • Collectively projects will cost around $600,000
  • Farm Island project to provide access include improving the boat ramp on the west end and taking advantage of the improved access from that area into main river channel
  • Bad River boat ramp had sediment back into the channel; under low water conditions can be tough so removing some material to help better open access
  • Antelope Creek access to restore channel from boat ramp into main river channel
  • LaFramboise Causeway ramp was in very poor condition and sandbar cut across access into main channel so will dredge pathway back into channel to restore access
  • Gavins Point was affected by flood but also has normal sedimentation so dredging channel
  • Springfield Recreation Area bay was silted in to 1-2 feet so need to dredge out bay for access into river
  • Goal to complete all these projects before the end of the year

Next Meeting
Spearfish Holiday Inn Express - Oct. 3-4