GFP Commission Holds April Meeting

April 8, 2022

PIERRE, S.D.–The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission held their April meeting at the Watertown Event Center on April 7-8.


The Commission voted to allow for the cancellation of campsites and lodging facilities without fee for a period of time after a reservation is made. After that period has lapsed, a fee of one-half of the first night’s camping or lodging fees will be assessed for both types of overnight use.

The Commission also passed two administrative rules to align business practices and requirements for license agents in preparation of launching a new online system. Go Outdoors South Dakota launched December 15, 2021. This system combines the purchases of hunting and fishing licenses with our state parks camping reservations and other purchases.

For more information on these finalizations, visit


The Commission finalized the elk and bighorn sheep hunting seasons for 2022. For more information on these proposals, visit

Black Hills Elk -The Commission voted to adjust the total number of available licenses from 450 "any elk" and 490 "antlerless elk" licenses (total of 940 licenses) to no more than 535 "any elk" and 730 "antlerless elk" licenses (total of 1,265 licenses).

The Commission also modified the boundaries of BHE-H9A and BHE-H9B to correct the unit boundary.

Prairie Elk - The Commission increased the number of licenses available from 78 “any elk” and 178 “antlerless elk” licenses (total of 256 licenses) to 102 “any elk” and 175 “antlerless elk” licenses (total of 277 licenses).

The Commission also modified Unit PRE-9A. This will split the current unit and establish a new unit to include the portion of Meade County. They also corrected season dates for units PRE - 11D, PRE-35A and PRE-35B.

The commission also modified prairie elk units 35A (Harding County west of US Hwy. 85) and 35B (Harding County east of US Hwy. 85) to the following:

  • a. Units 35A, 35C, and 35D: Harding County west of US Hwy. 85
  • b. Units 35B, 35E, and 35F: Harding County east of US Hwy. 85, and to establish season dates for prairie elk units 35A, 35B, 35C, and 35D as follows:
  • a. Units 35A and 35B: September 15-October 31 AND December 1-31 (any elk licenses)
  • b. Units 35C and 35E: October 1 – November 15 (antlerless elk licenses)
  • c. Units 35D and 35F: November 16 – December 31 (antlerless elk licenses)

Archery Elk - The Commission increased the number of licenses available from 147 “any elk” and 70 “antlerless elk” licenses (total of 217 licenses) to 182 "any elk" and 90 "antlerless" (total of 272 licenses).

Custer State Park Elk - The Commission increased the total number of available licenses from 9 "any elk" licenses to no more than 12 "any elk" licenses.

Custer State Park Early Archery Elk - The Commission increased the total number of available licenses from 3 "any elk" to 4 "any elk" licenses.

Bighorn Sheep Season - The Commission increased the number of “ram bighorn sheep” licenses from 8 to 11. They also changed the mandatory orientation meeting from “preceding the opening day of the season” to “preceding the first day of hunting by the license holder” and eliminated Unit BHS-ZZ1 for preference points, and will allow the bighorn sheep auction license to be valid for Units 2, 4, and Custer State Park.

Public Waters

The Commission removed the no boating zones and will allow for non-motorized watercraft within the Waubay National Wildlife Refuge and the Waubay State Game Bird Refuge.

GFP and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have been working in collaboration to align state and federal regulations within the USFWS Refuge System, resulting in more recreational opportunities within the refuge boundaries.

Additionally, the Commission established a no wake zone at a new boat ramp at Lake Poinsett State Recreation Area in Brookings County. They also modified the no wake zone at Belle Fourche Reservoir in Butte County to include all boat ramps.

Lake Francis Case Walleye Regulations

The Commission modified a petition in March and passed to remove the regulations on Lake Francis Case that requires the first four walleyes caught through the ice from the northern Gregory-Charles Mix County Line to the Fort Randall Dam be kept by anglers and that length limits are not in effect. Anglers would be able to keep up to four walleye they catch and the 15-inch minimum length limit would be in effect for all areas of Lake Francis Case from September 1 through June 30 and the one over 20-inches statewide regulation would be in effect year-round. The petition cited the reduced opportunity for anglers and local businesses from this current regulation.

Waterfowl Refuges

The Commission rejected a proposal to increase the size of the Pierre Waterfowl Refuge. This proposal was brought by the Commission in response to a petition submitted regarding this refuge.


The commission also has several new proposals. To view them in their entirety, visit

Waterfowl Seasons

The Commission continued discussions on several waterfowl seasons.

Some of the highlighted proposed changes to these seasons are:

  • To include mergansers in the daily duck limit bag. Previously, mergansers had separate bag limits.
  • Remove restriction for nonresident hunters in the counties of Beadle, Brookings, Hanson, Kingsbury, Lake, Lincoln, McCook, Miner, Moody, Sanborn, Turner, Union, and Minnehaha counties for the early fall Canada goose hunting season.

Mentored Spring Turkey Recruitment License for Youth

The Commission proposed to establish 10 Mentored Youth Turkey Recruitment licenses to be used statewide with the exception of Custer State Park. The benefit of a statewide license includes increasing the areas that can be hunted as not all counties or units have a spring turkey hunting season.

These licenses would be eligible for non-governmental organizations (NGO) that promote wildlife conservation and the recruitment, retention, and reactivation of hunters. Up to two licenses could be allocated to an individual NGO.

“The goal is to recruit more kids into the outdoor arena and in this case, spring turkey hunting,” stated wildlife director, Tom Kirschenmann. “This is not a fundraiser, but rather a recruitment tool that would enhance partnerships and statewide recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts specific to turkey hunting.”

A mentored youth turkey recruitment license sponsored by an NGO would be available to those youth 15 years of age and younger that do not already possess any type of spring turkey hunting license. The sponsoring NGO would cover the cost of the $5 mentor tag, while assisting the youth through the licensing process.

License Allocation

The Commission continued their discussion on removing the requirement for unlimited access permits for archery, muzzleloader, mentor, youth, and apprentice deer license holders to hunt certain deer hunting units and public lands.

They will also limit the number of archery access permits for Unit WRD-27L to no more than 20 "any deer" access permits for residents and no more than 5 "any deer" access permits for nonresidents.

State Migratory Bird Certification

The Commission continued their discussion to separate the state migratory bird certification permit from the nonresident spring snow goose, nonresident early fall Canada goose licenses, nonresident 3-day licenses, nonresident youth waterfowl licenses and decreased applicable license fees by $5 each.

Indian Springs/Antelope Creek

The Commission continued their discussion on changing the date requirements where no shooting from a boat is allowed on Indian Springs/Antelope Creek in Clark County from Oct. 10 - Dec. 31 to Oct. 20 - Dec. 31.

Public Comments Currently Being Accepted 

If you would like to comment on any of these proposals, visit Comments can also be mailed to 523 E. Capitol Ave Pierre, SD

To hear the discussion on these proposals, audio from the meeting is available through South Dakota Public Broadcasting and will soon be available on the GFP website as part of the meeting archive

To see these proposals in their entirety, visit


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