South Dakota Reduces Elk Licenses for 2008

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Reacting to the success of a management plan designed to reduce the size of the Black Hills elk herd, the S.D. Game, Fish and Parks Commission approved a 2008 hunting season that offers fewer elk licenses. The commission also finalized archery elk, prairie elk and bighorn sheep hunting seasons at its April meeting in Brookings.

At the meeting, Wildlife Division Assistant Director George Vandel reminded commissioners that the intent of the proposed Black Hills elk hunting season was to back off the harvest because of a reduction in the herd size. The season approved by the commission has 100 fewer "any elk" licenses and 300 fewer "antlerless elk" licenses than were offered in 2007.

Black Hills season dates for "any elk" licenses are Oct. 1 through Oct. 31. Two "antlerless elk" seasons will run Oct. 1 through Oct. 15 and Oct. 16 through Oct. 31. A December season for unsuccessful "antlerless elk" license holders will run Dec. 1 through Dec. 15.

Thirty-five fewer licenses—five "any elk" and 30 "antlerless elk"—will be offered in the archery elk hunting season. The dates for the Black Hills archery units are Sept. 1 through Sept. 30. The dates for Unit 30A in Gregory County are Aug. 15 through Nov. 14 and Nov. 24 through Dec. 31.

The dates for Unit 30A for both the archery and prairie elk hunting seasons had to be adjusted this year to coincide with the season dates in Boyd County, Neb.

There was no adjustment in the number of licenses offered in the prairie elk hunting season. Season dates include Sept. 1 through Oct. 12 and Oct. 18 through Dec. 31 in Bennett County, Sept. 1 through Oct. 31 in portions of Butte County and Aug. 14 through Nov. 14 and Nov. 24 through Dec. 31 in portions of Gregory County and Boyd County, Neb.

Commissioners also finalized a longer bighorn sheep hunting season. The 2008 season was extended to run from Oct. 4 through Nov. 30. This year's season will also have a new unit with an extra license. The new unit is located in Custer County west of Highway 79 excluding the fenced portion of Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument. Four licenses are allocated in the original bighorn sheep unit of Pennington County west of Highway 79 excluding Mount Rushmore National Monument.

Vandel told commissioners that this year bighorn sheep hunting license applicants will need to specify the unit for which they wish to apply.