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GFP News - March 17, 2014

GFP Commission Taking Comment on Spearfishing Tournament Request

PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission has received a written request to open the area of Lake Sharpe between the Highway 14/34/83 bridge and Oahe Dam to spearing of game fish for the period of Aug. 11-18, 2014.

If approved, this area would be opened in association with an underwater spearfishing tournament and would be open for all individuals possessing a valid fishing license and a game fish spearing permit, not just individuals participating in the tournament.

Comments from the public will be taken until the April Commission meeting scheduled for April 3-4, 2014, at Cedar Shore Resort in Oacoma.

Members of the public may comment on this request by emailing They can also submit written comments to the GFP Commission at 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, S.D. 57501, or attend the April meeting and participate in the "Open Forum" on the afternoon of April 3, 2014.

GFP Receives Funds to Help Sample Musky

PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) has been awarded a $5,500 grant from the Hugh C. Becker Foundation to help improve musky management in South Dakota. The grant provides funding for the construction of 10 trap nets to be used for sampling muskies.

Sampling muskies effectively is essential for GFP staff to gauge the success of stockings and to collect information on characteristics of musky populations. In 2013, GFP compared the catches of standard trap nets (3 x 5 foot frames and 50-foot lead) to much larger nets (5 x 6 foot frames and 100-foot lead). Initial results were encouraging with more musky being caught in the larger nets. The additional 10 nets will increase the amount of sampling that can be done at one time and result in more musky being sampled. The 10 new nets will be distributed between fisheries crews in eastern South Dakota.

Musky were first introduced into Amsden Dam in 1975. Since 2000, stocking has expanded to include Lynn Lake, West 81 Lake, Island Lake and Lake Sinai. All of these populations are maintained through stocking muskies reared at Blue Dog State Fish Hatchery.

About the Hugh C. Becker Foundation
The foundation is a nonprofit foundation established through the $3 million estate of Hugh C. Becker, who was an avid musky angler. The Twin Cities Chapter of Muskies Inc. receives 75 percent of the annual earnings of the foundation's investments and redistributes a portion of these funds to musky groups and fisheries agencies throughout North America. Monies from the foundation have been used to help fisheries programs, providing money for stocking efforts, habitat work and youth programs.

Public Input Requested on Draft Sage-Grouse Plan

PIERRE, S.D. - As part of the public input process, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks recently held public meetings in Belle Fourche and Buffalo to discuss and obtain input on a five-year draft management plan for greater sage-grouse.

"Public input is an important part of wildlife management," said Chad Switzer, wildlife program administrator. "With a majority of the attendees representing the ranching community, this information exchange and dialogue on sage-grouse management will improve the quality of the final plan and ensure that identified actions are implemented in a timely manner."

The deadline for providing comments has been extended to April 15, 2014. To view the draft management plan, please visit: Here you can also provide comments by submitting an email to

"Due to a continual, range-wide decline in sage-grouse populations and a listing decision expected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2015, recent collaboration and efforts amongst all stakeholders have demonstrated the willingness to work together to conserve sage-grouse and their habitats," concluded Switzer.

Please send a request for printed copies of the draft report or written comments to:
South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, 523 East Capitol Avenue, Pierre SD 57501.

GFP Conducts Helicopter Assisted White-tailed Deer Survival Study in Lake and McCook Counties

PIERRE, S.D. - Residents of McCook and Lake Counties had a different view in the sky earlier this month. A helicopter with trained wildlife wranglers dangled in the sky to assist with capturing 50 deer for the Department of Game, Fish and Parks' (GFP) new doe and fawn survival study.

"Over the last few weeks, we connected with landowners in the two counties for permission to do the study on their land, and signed up over 50,000 acres for the study," said Julie DeJong, regional wildlife manager. "The support of interested landowners has been crucial in this research project."

A company out of California, Native Range Capture Services, was hired to assist South Dakota wildlife biologists with capturing does to study their survival, as well as the survival of their spring fawns. The helicopter crew, comprised of a pilot, a net gunner and a "mugger," were dispatched in early March over the herd to first shoot a net at deer. Then, the mugger jumped from the helicopter onto the ground to wrestle the deer, tied its legs like a cowboy does a steer and blindfolded it to calm the animal.

"After untangling the doe from the net, the mugger then attached a radio-collar and inserted a vaginal implant transmitter (VIT). The VIT will stay in the doe until she gives birth, and will assist researchers in locating fawns soon after birth. Each doe was given a shot of penicillin and was released on site," DeJong said.

Both the collars and the VIT transmit a series of slow beeps which can be picked up by researchers using a GFP truck equipped with a specialized radio receiver. The radio collars beep faster if a deer is stopped in one location for more than eight hours, DeJong said, usually indicating a death. The VIT transmitters are temperature sensitive and will speed up when they are expelled with the fawn.

Right now, the biologists track the collared does every seven to 10 days, driving around the two counties until all 50 does are found. They plan to spend a lot of time in the areas at the end of May when most fawns are born.

"The second part of the study involves capturing the fawns and attaching radio transmitters," she said. "Radio-collared fawns will be monitored once every seven to 10 days for a year. Locating the fawns will involve spotlighting and walking searches."

The public can assist in the research by contacting GFP if they find a fawn in the wild.

"But do not disturb, pick up or detain the fawn," she said. "This could lead to abandonment by the mother. GFP personnel utilize specific procedures to reduce those chances of abandonment."

Three-fourths of this project is paid for by federal matching funds that are acquired through a tax from the sale of guns and ammunition. The remaining funds are from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses in South Dakota.

"Deer are such an important resource to the people of our state; not only for hunters, but for others who just enjoy seeing deer in the wild. Knowledge of the number of does and fawns that survive from one year to the next is vital information for estimating population trends and making sound tag allocations. Hunters are encouraged to treat collared does like any other doe as we want to get a close estimate of the doe survival in McCook and Lake Counties and hunting mortality is a component of that estimate," DeJong concluded.

For more information, please contact Julie DeJong at 605.362.2700. To better understand this study, video footage is available; please check out the three-minute YouTube clip here:

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