Deer Depredation Application Available

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South Dakota resident deer hunters should note that the paper application for the 2003-2004 big game depredation pool is available and must be postmarked on or before Nov. 30. The option to apply online is not available.

Wildlife Damage Management Administrator Art Smith said the depredation pool is not just another South Dakota deer drawing. In fact, the licenses may not be needed.

"The purpose of the depredation drawing is to establish a pool of hunters who can be called upon for special hunts intended to minimize damage to private crops or forage," he said. "Depredation hunts allow us to promptly respond to landowners who have large numbers of animals congregating on crops and forage, and when other methods of reducing or eliminating damage have proven ineffective. It is an especially valuable tool in cases of severe damage that cannot be controlled by any other method, as the hunt targets the specific animals causing damage."

He added that drought has again reduced available deer forage, and most of the state’s ground moisture levels are still very much below normal levels. "With those conditions, animals may target producer's feed stores, especially during significant snowfall, and we may need to utilize hunters from the depredation pool," he said.

When applying, pool applicants choose one of four units. In each unit, applicants are randomly drawn, placed on lists and those lists are used to determine the order in which hunters will be called to participate. Hunters that are called must be immediately available to participate in a depredation hunt. Because of this, applicants are asked to consider applying for the depredation unit in which they reside in order to reduce travel time and difficulties associated with the distance from their residence to a hunting area. If depredation hunts are necessary, they will be authorized between Dec. 1 and March 31.

To get an application, folks should enter the Game, Fish and Parks website at www.state.sd.us/gfp/. Then, under the subheading "Popular Shortcuts, click on the link to "print applications" or "request information." Paper applications are also available at most Game, Fish and Parks offices.

South Dakota residents must be at least 12 years of age or turn 12 before Jan. 1, 2004 to submit an application. Group applications of up-to-six applicants are allowed.

The application fee is $5 and is nonrefundable.