Successful Elk Hunters Reminded to Check-in

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Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) officials say some elk hunters are not checking in their harvested elk as is required of them by law.

According to Regional Wildlife Manager John Wrede of Rapid City, all elk taken in South Dakota must be checked by a GFP Conservation Officer or a designated check-in station within 24 hours of harvesting an elk.

"All elk hunters should have received notification of the elk check-in requirement in a general mailing that explained the elk check-in procedure during this year's elk season," Wrede said. "A list of elk check-in stations was included in the mailing, which indicated at least one or more elk check stations in every major city in the Black Hills.

"Currently, some hunters have not checked in their elk and need to do so to be in compliance with regulations," he said. "Some hunters we have contacted have their license and envelope, but do not have the elk check-in information provided in the letters." Successful elk hunters who forgot to check in their elk properly should contact Wrede at (605) 394-2394 to answer a few simple questions that will help to fill the harvest data gaps created by unchecked elk.

Wrede strongly recommends that elk be checked in the unit harvested prior to being transported elsewhere. Hunters are required by law to have their elk checked and submit the two front teeth (incisors) from their animal during the check.

To properly check in an elk, the hunter must complete the information on the back of the tooth envelope and complete a map questionnaire provided by the check-in station. An elk is not considered checked-in, unless all of this information is provided. The map questionnaire is not required in prairie elk units.

Bennett County elk hunters should have their elk checked at either LaCreek National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters or by Conservation Officer Tom Beck in Martin. Gregory County Elk hunters should contact the Conservation Officer in Gregory County.

In addition to the mandatory elk check, elk hunters in all Black Hills elk units, except 401A and B and 406 A and B, are encouraged to voluntarily submit the heads from their animal for CWD testing. Drop-off sites are located at several locations in the southern Black Hills and at the Rapid City Game, Fish and Parks office.

"Some hunters are confusing voluntary CWD testing with the mandatory elk check-in procedure, and they need to understand that the two projects are different," Wrede said.

"If a hunter wishes to voluntarily submit his animal for CWD testing, he must still complete the check-in process and then locate a drop off site for the head of his animal for CWD testing. Instructions for CWD sample submission are provided at the drop off sites."

Wrede added that not all elk check-in stations are CWD drop-off points, so elk hunters should refer to their CWD mailing information to determine locations and procedures for cooperation in the CWD program.

"Tissue samples may be conveniently taken from trophy animals without harm to the hide, skull or antlers," Wrede said. "Hunters wishing to have their trophy animals tested for CWD should plan to have their animal skinned and the hide and antlers preserved for mounting as soon as possible after the animal is brought out of the field. The head can then be submitted to Game, Fish and Parks for tissue sample removal.

Elk should be checked in before skinning and processing whenever possible. Hunters should plan to submit their head sample for CWD testing not more than 2-3 days after date of kill for a viable sample to be collected.

Questions on the proper procedure for sampling trophy animals for CWD or about elk check-in stations and check-in requirements should be directed to Wrede.