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GFP News - October 21, 2013

Difficult To Determine Wildlife Losses From Blizzard

PIERRE, S.D. - The Game, Fish and Parks Department has had a few reports of wildlife losses resulting from the early October blizzard in western South Dakota, but the extent of the blizzard's impact will take time to determine.

"The focus has been on public safety and dealing with catastrophic livestock losses," Chad Switzer, GFP wildlife program administrator, said. "We have only had a scattering of reports from landowners and other individuals who are out in the fields. There is no question that the blizzard had an impact on wildlife, but we have not observed or had any reports of any wildlife losses at a level comparable to the devastating impacts this storm had on livestock. "

Switzer added GFP has also received reports of pheasant loss in Perkins and Bennett counties due to the storm.

"These are vast, open areas where it is difficult to quantify precise impacts from the blizzard," Switzer said. "We will continue to monitor for losses through observations by our staff, reports from hunters and landowners."

GFP Conducting Study of River Otter Habitat

PIERRE, S.D. - The Game, Fish and Parks Department is conducting an experiment to evaluate river otter habitat in south-central South Dakota by releasing a small number of radio-marked otters.

The river otter is a state threatened species. GFP has conducted habitat evaluations and surveyed for evidence of river otters in many of the streams and rivers in the state.

No otters have been detected outside their known range, primarily east of the James River, but among the sites surveyed the Little White River was considered suitable for otters. GFP will trap up to five otters from within South Dakota, implant each animal with a radio transmitter and transfer them to state land along the Little White River.

GFP will monitor the otters to determine release success, evaluate home range size, identify characteristics of the habitats they use and document feeding habits. The transfer is for study purposes, and no further release is planned at this time.

This work is part of the river otter management plan developed by GFP in October of 2012. The plan can be viewed on the GFP website at

Turn In Poachers Benefits S.D. Wildlife

PIERRE, S.D. - The Game, Fish and Parks Department is reminding citizens that the South Dakota Turn in Poachers (TIPs) program continues to be operational and callers who have knowledge of illegal hunting and fishing activity could be eligible for rewards. The program provides an important avenue for citizens to report hunting and fishing law violations, and in the process, prevent the loss of wildlife that can result from illegal actions.

"In the annual reporting period from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013 the TIPs program resulted in 103 arrests of wildlife law violators," GFP law program administrator Andy Alban said. "Wildlife would have been lost and violators would have gone unpunished if citizens had not been proactive by calling the TIPs hotline and reporting violations they had observed."

During the past year, the TIPs program reported 212 investigations initiated through citizen reports, leading to 103 arrests, $19,143 in fines and  $7,300 in civil penalties.

Callers can remain anonymous, and are eligible for rewards in cases that lead to an arrest. Rewards may range up to $300 for big game and $100 for small game or fishing violations. Higher rewards may be offered in extreme cases. Last year $9,000 in rewards were paid.

"The TIPs program has been going since 1984, and in that time citizens have generated over 10,000 investigations that have led to 3,500 arrests," Alban said. "We are grateful to the men and women who have cared enough about South Dakota's wildlife to report illegal activity. Each and every individual is a vital part of the work to preserve our natural resources."

Alban pointed to several violations that were investigated and successfully prosecuted this past year through the assistance of eyewitnesses including:

Individuals may call the TIPs at 1-888-OVERBAG (683-7224) to report violations, or report via the TIPs website at


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