South Dakota Considers Elk Tag Reduction for 2009

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South Dakota elk hunters could see a reduction in tags available for the 2009 seasons.

A proposal from the Game Fish and Parks Commission is recommending a reduction in licenses for select Black Hills hunting units.

"We have heard from hunters and landowners in areas of the Black Hills that they would like to see elk numbers a little higher," said Chief of Terrestrial Resources, Tom Kirschenman. "There are still locations in the Hills that we hear from concerned landowners that there are too many elk, but they are fewer and fewer. In other areas, elk numbers are slightly lower than we would like to see them. To begin the process of slightly increasing elk numbers, we are recommending a reduction in licenses in several units."

The proposal includes a reduction in archery elk licenses from a total of 202 licenses in 2008 to a total of 185 licenses for 2009, or 17 fewer licenses.

The rifle elk season would see a reduction from 1,675 licenses in 2008 to 1,365 licenses in 2009, or 310 fewer licenses.

Another proposal would see an expansion of the Prairie Elk hunting season. Division of Wildlife staff recommended adding an additional unit in Bennett County and one including parts of Butte and Lawrence Counties. The addition of these units would increase the number of prairie elk licenses available from 76 in 2008 to 131 in 2009.

"We are recommending these units for a couple of reasons," said Regional Wildlife Manager John Kanta. "First and foremost, we are receiving depredation complaints from farmers and ranchers in these areas, and secondly data suggests that the elk herd is moving north into an area of Butte and Lawrence Counties where we previously did not have an established hunting unit."

The GFP Commission also finalized the Black Hills bighorn sheep season, which will have 5 "any bighorn sheep" licenses available. The Commission will keep the season closed on mountain goats in South Dakota.

The Commission will take final action on the elk season proposals at their April meeting, which will take place at the Sioux Falls Downtown Holiday Inn, April 1-2.

Information on season proposals is available at the GFP Web site at under the headings "About Game, Fish and Parks” and “GFP Commission."

Citizens who would like to provide written comments on the proposal may do so up until 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 1. Those comments may be mailed to Game, Fish and Parks Commission, 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501 or e-mailed to All comments must have the sender's full name and address in order to become part of the public record.

Comments may also be presented in person at the GFP Commission meeting during the public hearing which is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday, April 2.