More Tags Proposed For 2005 Antelope Season

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South Dakota’s 2005 antelope season might be extended to 14 days, split into separate seasons and have available licenses increased by 93 percent under a recent Game, Fish and Parks Commission proposal.

Assistant Wildlife Director George Vandel said that most of the state’s antelope are in four northwest counties and Fall River County. The commission proposed splitting the season in the main antelope range counties in order to spread out the hunting and provide better opportunity for landowners to host hunters. The proposed 14-day season would be split into two, seven-day seasons in units:

* 15A/E, 15B/F (Butte County),
* 35A/E, 35B/F (Harding County),
* 53A/E, 53B/F(Perkins County),
* 49A/E, 49B/F (Meade County),
* 27A/E and 27B/F (Fall River County).

Season dates would include:

* Oct. 1 – 7 for units 15A, 15B, 35A, 35B, 53A,53B, 49A, 49B, 27A and 27B.

* Oct. 8 – 14 for units 15E, 15F, 35E, 35F, 53E, 53F, 49E, 49F, 27E, and 27F.

* Oct. 1 – 14 for all other units.

Other proposed changes from 2004 would include:

* Offer a total of 9,567 (+93 percent) more antelope tags.

* Offer residents 970 less one-tag and 4,980 more two-tag licenses than in 2004

* Offer nonresidents 73 less one-tag and 395 more two-tag licenses than in 2004.

* Merge Units 02B (central Pennington) and 21A (eastern Custer) into one unit.

* Merge Units 53B and 53C in southern Perkins County (and a small portion of Meade County) into one unit.

* Expand Unit 63A to encompass all of Walworth and Potter Counties.

* Extend the season length from 9 to 14 days.

Vandel noted that the proposal is based on the best early estimate for season needs. "Staff is currently surveying the state’s antelope population by aerial survey, which will give us a better feel for season’s harvest needs," he said. "People should note the proposed license numbers are subject to change depending on what the aerial surveys indicate."

To comment on the proposals, people can attend the public hearing at 2 p.m., Thursday, July 7, at The Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls, or write Game, Fish and Parks, 523 E. Capitol, Pierre, S.D. 57501. E-mail comments can be sent to wildinfo@state.sd.us. Comments must include full name and address.