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GFP News - October 4, 2012

Deer die-off prompts reduction of some unsold East River licenses

DEADWOOD, S.D. - The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department has conducted surveillance and taken reports of dead deer across many counties in southeast and south-central parts of the state to help determine the severity of this year's Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) outbreak.

Reports of dead deer has GFP taking actions to reduce harvest and encouraging hunters to visit early with landowners to determine local impacts and opportunities.

"The deer die-offs reported have been local in nature for many areas and not evenly distributed across each county," GFP Secretary Jeff Vonk said. "Because the impact of EHD can vary, it is essential that hunters check with their local landowner on the status of the deer herd on properties they hunt."

Vonk added that GFP is still actively monitoring the deer herd throughout the state. "We are grateful for the cooperation we have received from landowners and hunters. We have a common goal of doing what is best for our deer herd, and we will continue to evaluate additional reports and take further proactive measures if necessary."

In response to the deer die-offs in eastern SD, the GFP Commission took emergency action at their October 4 meeting which provided Secretary Vonk the authority to immediately reduce the number of licenses available prior to the second drawing of the East River Deer hunting season.

As a result of the Secretary"s actions, all unsold licenses have been removed from deer hunting units in Bon Homme, Hutchinson, Yankton, Clay, Union and Charles Mix counties.

In addition, the Commission and Secretary Vonk authorized the elimination of all unsold licenses in southern Perkins County as a result of further EHD developments there.

Hunters have also been given the option of turning in their deer license if they feel it is in their best interest to cancel their hunting plans. The license and associated tags must be returned to the GFP Licensing Office before the start of that respective season. If applicable, GFP will reinstate hunter preference points for the first drawing.

Hunters desiring a refund for a deer license should send their license, including all associated tags, to: GFP Licensing Office; 20641 SD Highway 1806; Fort Pierre, SD 57532.

GFP Receives Grant To Repair LaFramboise Island Trails

PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department announced today that it has received a grant in the amount of $1,596 from the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation to repair LaFramboise Island trails that were extensively damaged by last year's Missouri River flooding.

The funds granted to GFP were provided by contributions from members of the Capital City Bicycle Club of Pierre and have been held in a dedicated account at the Foundation for the purpose of improving or repairing bike trails in central South Dakota.

"Bike riders in our community are anxious to access the trails on LaFramboise again," said Tom Lee, president of the Capital City Bicycle Club. "We know there is considerable expense involved in making these trails usable after the flooding, and we are happy to contribute funds to help with the cost."

Although the main trails are scheduled to be open on Saturday, Oct. 6, additional cleanup and repair of the trails will be needed, noted Ryan Raynor, GFP district park supervisor.

A volunteer work day has been organized for Oct. 6 to help clean up and repair trails. Interested volunteers should meet at the picnic shelter at 9 a.m. Volunteers are asked to bring their own pruners, rakes, non-motorized saws and protective gear if possible.

Salmon Station Open For Egg Collection

PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department has opened the Whitlock Bay Salmon Spawning Station for the 2012 season, but the flood of 2011 may make it a challenge to gather enough adult salmon for egg collection.

Fisherman caught fewer salmon this year, and GFP personnel expect fewer salmon than usual to show up at the spawning station.

"The low number of salmon in Lake Oahe is due to a loss of salmon during the 2011 flood," said GFP fisheries biologist Robert Hanten. "The extremely high water release from Lake Oahe pulled salmon congregating near the face of the dam through intakes into Lake Sharpe. We did gain some North Dakota salmon, but fewer angler catches this year indicate low salmon numbers in Lake Oahe."

Fisheries crews will electrofish on Lakes Oahe and Sharpe in an attempt to collect additional adult salmon for egg collection.

Chinook salmon do not naturally reproduce in Lake Oahe and would not exist there without GFP collecting eggs, raising young salmon and stocking them back into the lake for anglers.

Each year, juvenile Chinook salmon are stocked throughout Lake Oahe. They then disperse throughout the reservoir until becomiong sexually mature. Flowing water down the fish ladder attracts the mature fish to the station where GFP personnel collect, sort and spawn the salmon.

The Oahe salmon fishery is very popular with anglers. Surveys show a high percentage of salmon anglers travel more than 200 miles one way for the chance to catch the hard-fighting fish.

Whitlock Bay Salmon Station is 18 miles northwest of Gettysburg by West Whitlock Recreation Area. The station is open for tours from 9-11 a.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays during October; the fish ladder observation deck is open to the public at any time. Group tours can also be arranged by calling 605.223.7681.

-GFP-

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