Deer Depredation Application Deadline Approaching

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South Dakota resident deer hunters are reminded that paper applications for the 2002-2003 big game depredation pool must be postmarked on or before Nov. 30. Online applications will be accepted up to midnight, Monday Dec. 2.

Wildlife Damage Management Administrator Art Smith said the purpose of the drawing is to establish a pool of hunters who can be called upon for special hunts intended to minimize damage to private crops or forage.

"Depredation hunts allow us to respond promptly to landowners who have large numbers of animals congregating on crops and forage," Smith noted, "and when other methods of reducing or eliminating damage have proven ineffective. It is an especially valuable tool in cases of severe damage that cannot be controlled any other way, as the hunt targets the specific animals causing damage."

Although this winter is off to a dry start, this past summer's drought has reduced the available forage usually utilized by deer and elk. "We are expecting that the animals may be forced into producer's feed stores, especially if we receive appreciable snowfall, and we may need to utilize hunters from the depredation pool," Smith said.

Pool applicants choose one of four units. In each unit, applicants are randomly drawn to place them on a list, and those lists are used to determine the order in which hunters will be called to participate. Hunters that are called must be able to respond quickly to participate in a depredation pool hunt. Because of this, applicants are asked to consider applying for the depredation pool hunt unit in which they reside in order to reduce travel time and difficulties associated with the distance from their residence to a hunt area. If depredation hunts are necessary, they will be authorized between Dec. 1 and March 31.

Applicants should consult one of the following links:

South Dakota residents must be at least 12 years of age or turn 12 before Jan. 1, 2003 to submit an application. Group applications of two to six applicants are allowed. The application fee is $5 and is nonrefundable.