central Regional Advisory panel
february 14, 2013
Wildlife Division Office, Ft. Pierre
|Panel Members Present||GF&P Staff Present|
|Jack Broome - Burke||Cliff Stone|
|Keith Krull - Harrold||Mark Norton|
|Cody Wilson - Pickstown||Tim Olson|
|Lyle Perman - Lowry||Nathan Baker|
|Leonard Spomer - Pierre||Sandi Knippling|
|Bill Waeckerle - Akaska|
Cliff Stone opened the meeting at 10:00 am, welcomed the panel members to the Ft. Pierre Wildlife Division Office, introduced Department Staff, and reviewed the agenda. Cliff also informed the group that Kirk Yackley from Onida was going to resign from the panel for family reasons and asked the group to pass on any suggestions for a replacement.
Bill Waeckerle: They have a pretty good snow cover in Akaska. Walleye fishing has been excellent, with two 10 lb walleye caught last weekend. There was a party of 22 who caught limits over the weekend. Bill fished the weekend himself and did well. Lots of people are fishing; but with water rising folks need to be careful.
Whitetail deer numbers seem down a little bit, however, there are some big groups north of him. Mule deer population also seems down a bit but deer are in good shape. There is concern in his area with river levels. Pheasant population seems about the same as last year, however you hear some folks claim to have a lot and others not so many. There are many scattered areas.
Cliff asked if anglers in Bill's area are seeing egg development in the walleye's being caught, Bill indicated that they are and are hoping for a good spawn.
Jack Broome: In the southern to southwestern part of Gregory County, they got ten inches of very welcome snow. Ice fishing has been excellent, at the Buryanek area everyone limiting out on walleye. A group was there earlier in the week, arriving at about 4P, caught their limit and were leaving by 5:30P with their limits. Anglers pan fishing at Burke and Fairfax Lakes are doing quite well and Dog Ear Lake has been producing some jumbo perch.
The EHD outbreak, in deer, this past fall was spotty. Jim Buryanek says he has not lost any deer, another rancher lost whitetail but not any mule deer. Pheasant numbers are down, but seeing good numbers of grouse/prairie chickens, went ice fishing Saturday and saw birds galore.
Keith Krull: Has been pretty quiet in his area. He is also seeing lots of big groups of grouse and prairie chickens, while the pheasant seem to be taking a hit in places. Hawks... lots of them. Deer are pretty spread out. Lodge business is looking good for the upcoming fall, with bookings already almost full for this fall's hunting season. His lodge does have a group booked to hunt pheasant in March.
Leonard Spomer: Nothing to drastic to report, ice anglers fishing walleye at Minneconjou on the Cheyenne River arm of Lake Oahe have been doing well. The West Bend area also had good fishing last weekend. Pan fishing has been good in the Farm Island/marina area. Some walleye fishing going on in the open water below Oahe Dam, but success has been very spotty. Last fall pheasant population definitely down in the Pierre area; especially public lands - real tough.Â There were some good pockets of birds but not like the past several years. There are fair numbers of grouse out west.
East and West River deer seasons pretty normal. In northern Haakon County, whitetail deer seem to be taking over areas that where traditionally mule deer. Hope for a good pheasant hatch this spring. Seen lots of prairie chickens and pheasants in June and July - then they seemed to be gone once fall arrived. Goose season has been phenomenal.
Cody Wilson: Eastern Gregory and southern Charles Mix Counties have received very little snow or moisture, it's just not coming. Need things to change. Biggest concern in his area is the deer loss, Cody estimates a 70% loss on his place in Gregory County. Loss is primarily white tail deer, found one dead mule deer. Folks are reporting that they are seeing a lot of coyotes in Charles Mix County.
Anglers have been doing well below Ft Randall dam. The ice is coming off of several of the bays in the lower portion of Lake Francis Case, with some open on the lake. There are a lot of shallow areas. Not much ice fishing down his way, mainly north of the Platte-Winner bridge.
Pheasant numbers are down considerably. Hunters had some success the first week and then things dropped off considerably. Red Lake by Wagner is dry.
Lyle Perman: Pheasant hunting was average this year. Crop harvest was completed by the time pheasant season opened, so it was one of the best opening weekends they've had in a long time but after that not as good. Deer numbers down from other years. Raptor/coyote numbers are probably up because of lack of habitat and weather but raptors a big factor. Habitat loss is a result of both the drought as well as conversion of grass land/CRP to row crop agriculture. With the continued loss of wetlands and grasslands, wildlife numbers aren't going to improve to past levels either.
Cliff provided the panel members with a tentative list of the open houses that Region 2 will be hosting in March. Cliff encouraged the panel members to attend if it fits their schedules. Open houses in the southern part of the Region will focus on deer management. Open houses will be advertised in local newspapers as well as using the Departments email data base to send individual emails to the local area. Cliff would appreciate feedback from the panel members on whether they receive these messages.
Miscellaneous Discussion Topics/Updates:
9-day antlerless extension. There are discussions around the state on whether this season is needed anymore. The general consensus among the Region 2 staff is that we would like to see it continue. In the central part of the state, in 2011, 15-20% of the antlerless deer harvest occurred during the 9-day extension. With the EHD die-off and only allowing the use of tags originally issued as antlerless during the 2012-13 season it is unlikely the harvest will be that high. Comments/Questions from the panel members included:
- Concern from some landowners that bucks have dropped their antlers prior to this season.
- Like the late season, by that time deer are beginning to bunch up and harvest can be directed at potential problem area. If landowners have concerns about bucks having already shedding antlers,it is their choice not to let folks hunt.
- Question on the tag conversion this year - tags that originally allowed the taking of a buck did not convert.
- Concerns from commercial hunting interests.
- Because of EHD die off, some landowners did not allow antlerless harvest this year.
- Ability of whitetail deer populations to quickly rebound.
WDM Working Group Meeting.
Lyle Perman, representing the Central RAP, and Cliff discussed the recent meeting of the Wildlife Damage Working Group meeting. The meeting was the first time this group had met in a number of years and included many new members (all four RAP panels were represented). This meeting included an overview of the main wildlife damage issues (geese, elk, deer) that the department is dealing with in recent years and some of the new challenges. Group plans to meet again later in the year.
Ag Groups - GFP/Sportsman.
Cliff provided the panel policy statements related to GFP from several agricultural groups and the SD Wildlife Federation, noting some of the conflicting views. A discussion topic at a future RAP meeting may center around discussions on how these groups might work on common interests. Comments and thoughts from the panel members included:
- Several panel members are familiar with both groups and feels that often the department (GFP) is caught in between. A suggestion was that GFP needs to remain active in the Ag Unity group and that we should officially appoint a representative. There are many issues that we should keep out of the legislature.
- GFP is doing a much better job today because of the RAP panels, however improvements in programs that give landowners incentives to allow are wildlife on their lands continue to need focus.
- Cliff noted that GFP will have a booth at one of the upcoming statewide ag group conferences.
- SD Wildlife Federation and landowners have one thing in common - wildlife.
- The farmer's voice is diminishing.
Cliff provided the panel members an overview of the legislation that the Department is tracking. The two Department (Wildlife Division) sponsored bills (blaze orange exemption for mountain lion hunters and youth dove hunting)Â appear to be moving through with little opposition.
Farm Bill update/Hunter Access - Mark Norton
Mark Norton, GFP Hunter Access/Farm Bill Coordinator updated the panel on the Department's Hunting Access Programs (WIA, CHAPS, CREP) including some history (WIA is nearing its 25th anniversary) number of acres enrolled, and payment schedules. Mark also reviewed recent changes to the Hunting Atlas. Mark then provided the group an update on the status (uncertain status) of the Federal Farm Bill and its importance to conservation programs in South Dakota.
SD GFP Private Lands Programs - Tim Olson
Tim Olson provided the panel an overview (including handout) on the Department's Wetlands and Grasslands program and the Wildlife Partners Programs. Both are very popular with landowners. Several panel members have used or are participating in various portions of the private lands programs and were very complimentary of the programs and the staff that deliver them.
Lower Oahe Waterfowl Access Program - Nathan Baker
Nathan Baker, Region 2 Wildlife Program Manager, provided the group and overview/history of the Lower Oahe Waterfowl Access Program. Program not only provides residents public waterfowl hunting opportunity, but also upland and big game hunting. Program is funded partially by the sale of 3-day non-resident waterfowl hunting licenses. Goose hunters using the program this year are having one of the best years since the program's inception.
Next meeting - discussion was on a late summer meeting. Both Keith and Lyle have offered to host. Idea was to incorporate a field trip, perhaps inviting Dave Ode to do a "pasture walk."
Meeting adjourned at 3:00 PM.