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Harvest Survey reports

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks has conducted harvest surveys since 1948 to estimate harvest data. There have been changes to the structure and style of these surveys, but for the past twenty years the form and content of the surveys has remained consistent.

Harvest surveys are an important part of wildlife management in South Dakota. The information obtained by completing these harvest surveys is the link between what happened during the hunting season this year and how next year’s hunting season will be determined.

Fact #1

Harvest surveys are the most efficient and cost-effective method of estimating game harvest. Hunter harvest is a substantial source of mortality of big game populations in South Dakota, and a way to estimate this harvest is to ask hunters to complete an online or report card survey each year. When hunters voluntarily complete harvest surveys, GFP staff are better equipped to issue the proper number of hunting licenses specific to that big game population and hunting unit.

Fact #2

Surveys are mailed at the end of each hunting season to a random sample of hunters usually using both emails and paper questionnaires. Approximately 10-14 days after mailing, a reminder or a new survey is mailed to all those who did not respond to the first mailing. Up to four mailings may be sent in order to reach a response rate of approximately 70-80 percent depending on specific survey goals. This high response rate allows us to have confidence that our estimates are accurate and precise.

Fact #3

Units with a very large number of licenses will have a smaller percentage of individuals drawn for surveys. There is a chance a hunter will get selected for a certain survey, or multiple surveys, on a regular basis. This is less likely in units with a large number of licenses where we select only a small percentage. If an individual hunts in a unit with only a very small number of licenses available, odds are very good he or she will receive a survey card on a regular basis.

Fact #4

The fact that someone was unsuccessful in their hunt is as important as their success. Unsuccessful hunters represent a cross-section of all hunters and we need to know that information. It is as important that hunters provide information on whether or not they even hunted.

Fact #5

Harvest surveys are an important part of wildlife management in South Dakota. Survey response information is compiled into harvest projections for each of the hunting seasons. The information is compiled into separate reports for big game, small game/waterfowl and furbearer seasons. These reports are used by biologists to prepare proposals for license numbers, bag limits and season dates. As mentioned previously, the information obtained by completing these harvest surveys is the link between what happened during the hunting season this year and how next year’s hunting season will be determined.

A few more facts

2013: 100,885 resident and 8,972 nonresident deer licenses issued.