South Dakota Hunter Survey Cards Sent

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While hunting seasons may be concluding, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department is beginning the difficult process of determining the past year's big game harvest as part of planning for 2009 management needs.

GFP determines how many animals were harvested through survey information submitted by hunters.

"Not every hunter will receive a harvest survey card," Corey Huxoll, GFP wildlife biologist in charge of harvest surveys, said. "We take a random selection of hunters for each season and mail them a card. The accuracy of the survey lies in the percentage of replies we get on those surveys."

Huxoll said the goal for each season is to have 85-90 percent reply. This assures the highest quality for the information that can be provided to GFP wildlife managers. The initial mailing of survey cards is timed to coincide with the completion of each hunting season so information is still fresh in the minds of hunters.

"To assure we reach a high level of accuracy, we will follow up our mailing of survey cards with a second and even a third mailing to those who have not responded," Huxoll said. "We ask that hunters return the cards at their soonest convenience after they receive them. This will provide a great service to our wildlife management efforts and pave the way to our 2009 hunting season structure."

In addition to the usual mail-back option, hunters can respond through a Web site address where they can record their hunting activities for any of the hunting seasons. Hunters still need information from their survey card in order to enter the Web site and answer questions specific to their license.

"Hunters who respond through the Web site will answer the same general questions such as number of animals harvested, animal species and sex, how long they hunted, along with their general hunting satisfaction, just like on the regular survey cards" Huxoll said. "The advantage to this system is the convenience to the hunters, cost savings, and quicker receipt of harvest information for the Department. It not only saves return mail costs, but also the time it takes to sort the returned cards and enter the information into the computer."

Last year, nearly 15,000 hunters used the Web site to submit their harvest information.