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January 2012 Commission Meeting

January 12-13, 2012
Ft Pierre

Information

summary

Division of Administration

Action Items
Approve Minutes of the December Meeting
Additional Commissioner Salary Days
License List Requests

  • Request from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation regional director Tom Slowey for 2011 elk applicant list for mailing to offer chances for the 2012 CSP elk tag and other prizes. Request waive normal fees as nonprofit for flat $100 fee; approved
  • Request from Charles Ross for list of Shooting Preserve license holders for information on Scattergun Lodge; approved

Information item
License Sales Report

  • Final sales report for 2011 licenses was 1% down from 2010 (389,119 licenses in 2011; 393,083 licenses in 2010); revenue decline of about $600,000 for the year from 2010
  • Nonresident small game license change from 96,971 in 2011 down from 102,003 in 2010 (4.9% decrease)
  • Most license types showed a small drop from 2010, although resident small game license sales fell by 9.2% and resident youth small game license sales fell by 7.1%

License Sales System Re-Write

  • Through next year will re-write the system used for the license sales system
  • In the meantime will continue to use the current system through this year
  • Plan is to combine big game license system into one with the general license system
  • Target date to go live with the new system on Dec. 15, 2012 when the new license year begins

Department Sponsored Legislation

  • Four bills introduced on behalf of GFP
  • Snowmobile Bill part of move to make all registrations (cars, boats, etc) on an annual basis; snowmobiles were done on a 2-year basis; this bill will make snowmobiles part of a 1-year registration process
  • Marcotte Property bill involves a 60-acre GPA owned and managed by GFP located on the edge of the Sturgis city limits and, because of that proximity, has lost most of its value as a GPA; Sturgis wishes to purchase the property and make it part of the city park system and this bill will allow that
  • Five sections of code identified by staff as unnecessary and part of Governor's move to simplify laws
  • Boating Under the Influence bill - currently officer can look for probable cause when boater stopped; this will allow the officer to conduct further blood tests; bill is modeled after DUI statute

Open Forum

  • Jim Twamley representing South Dakota Bowhunters invited Commission and staff to attend their annual convention in Spearfish; annual hospitality night will be held as part of March Commission meeting
  • Marvin Jobgen of Dakota Safaris in western South Dakota asked that the Commission increase the number of West River Nonresident Special Buck Tags by 250; currently the 500 licenses are not sufficient to cover the number of applicants and hunting business are not able to accommodate repeat customers that are an important part of their clientele
  • Philip Wilson president of Dakota Trophy out of Elm Springs near Wasta also asked consideration to increase special buck tags and then reduce the number of regular licenses by a similar amount to make the additional licenses less of a hardship
  • Randy Kemink, Gettysburg, wanted the Commission to know the West Whitlock refuge has been doing very well and encourage that it be kept in place; wanted to remind Commission of an idea to make licenses during the antlerless deer extension season available to contiguous counties; kids and servicemen coming home for the holiday vacation would like to see the pheasant season extended for one more week to accommodate their hunting
  • Bill Antonides, president of SD Wildlife Federation, wanted to speak to the Commission about mountain lions; landowners are allowed to take lions throughout the year to protect their property; if taking lions as part of a hunting season they need to follow the rules and laws set forth for that season; it makes it very difficult for law enforcement to take place if rules do not need to be followed; in the case of Harding County, a hired hand is being allowed to take a lion as part of landowner stipulations; it makes the provisions on who qualifies for landowner licenses and who does not even more difficult to define; needs to be some evidence that an individual actually is a landowner/operator; mountain lions are classified as big game and should be managed and protected by all big game, or re-classify mountain lions as a predator-varmint or similar; need to make sure that the landowners that deserve preference licenses are the ones who receive those licenses
Division of Parks and Recreation

Action items
Modify Lyman County Lease

  • Lyman County is not ready to move forward with a change in lease at this time
  • Lyman County will need to get together with Cedar Shore and work out a transfer
  • At that point the GFP Commission will be presented with an action item to approve this part of the transfer; hope is this can happen in March

Cedar Shore Lease Transfer

  • Will be able to move forward with this when the county issues are settled

Information items
2011 Final Visitation and Revenue Report

  • Total Park revenue was down 2.3% (about $250,000) in 2011 from 2010 ($10,412.247.65 revenue in 2011; $10,662,369.11 in 2010)
  • Visitation was down about 5.5% at CSP; cold wet spring and publicity from flooding in other parts of the state impacted the number of people traveling; also the number attending the Sturgis Rally was down
  • Flooded park areas had biggest revenue loss: Richmond Lake down 5.1%, Snake Creek down 9.4%, North Point down 14.7%, Farm Island down  37.7%, Oahe Downstream down 48.8%
  • Visitation down 8.8% from 2010 (6,274,923 in 2011 compared to 6,877,641 in 2010)

Point of Sale/Reservation System RFP

  • Four years ago last RFP went out for a new system to allow real-time online or telephone booking of camping facilities; the company that got the bid but has now sold their business to Active which now has about 95% of the reservation systems across the country
  • Contract is extended through 2012, but have issued an prospectus to take bids to move forward with a new contract to provide reservation services
  • Deadline of March 1 for response to RFP; then will take several months to review the applicants and then select a merchant to be in place by November
Division of Wildlife

Proposals
Public Water Markings and Zones

  • Create a No Wake Zone on Richmond Lake (Brown Co.) during certain periods of high water
  • Create a No Wake Zone on Mina Lake (Edmunds Co.) during certain periods of high water
    GFP staff recommends creating a "no wake zone" on Richmond Lake (Brown County) and Mina Lake (Edmunds County) during any time at which the water level reaches 18 inches or more over the level of the top of the spillway. Over the last two years, significant rainfall events have occurred in northeastern South Dakota. These events can cause the water levels in impoundments such as Richmond and Mina to quickly rise well above outlet elevations, resulting in public and private property damage. Unrestricted motorboat usage during these periods causes additional and unnecessary damage to infrastructure, while also posing a risk to boaters due to submerged and partially submerged docks and other debris. GFP, working in conjunction with the Governor's Office and the respective lake associations, has implemented a “no wake zone” on these waters in recent years to address these public health and welfare issues. This rule proposal would provide a more efficient response to these requests for assistance from property owners and lake users, while also serving as a long-term solution to the periodic and temporary flooding issues. Commission proposed both as recommended.
  • Create a No Wake Zone on Lake Mitchell (Davison Co.) during certain periods of high water
    GFP staff recommends creating a "no wake zone" on Lake Mitchell (Davison County) during any time at which the water level in Lake Mitchell reaches 12 inches or more over the level of the top of the spillway. Conversely, the "no wake zone" would automatically be rescinded at such time when the water level of the lake drops to the level of six inches over the level of the top of the spillway. These measurements comport with existing City of Mitchell ordinances. Commission proposed as recommended.
  • Amend the boundaries of the existing No Wake Zone on the west end of Lake Mitchell
    GFP staff recommends amending the "no wake zone" on the west end of Lake Mitchell (Davison County). Residents living along the man-made channel on the west end of Lake Mitchell have requested the “no wake zone” be reduced in size. GFP has consulted with the City of Mitchell and the Lake Mitchell Improvement Committee on the proposed change. The existing "no wake zone" covers a considerable amount of surface area. When initially enacted, the west end of Lake Mitchell had a considerable amount of emergent vegetation and the area served as a refuge for fish and fishermen. Additionally, there were concerns for shoreline erosion caused by increased wave action. Since that time, a portion of the lake was dredged and riprap was placed in various areas along the shoreline. The proposed change would still address shoreline erosion issues, while reducing the transit time for persons traveling though this area. The proposed zoning would extend from the lake point located in the southwest quarter of section 32 (T103N/R60W) and extending across the lake to a point on the shoreline 100 feet north of the entrance to the man-made channel connecting Lake Mitchell and Firesteel Creek. Commission proposed as recommended.
  • Create an Electric Motors Zone on the waters of Rollings Game Production Area (Lincoln Co.)
    GFP staff also recommends enacting an "electric motors zone" on the waters of Rollings Game Production Area (Lincoln County). This area is located near the town of Hudson and contains several small ponds where aggregate materials were formerly excavated. Those ponds were connected by manmade channels to form one body of water that is approximately 7.5 acres in size. There are 12 shorefishing access points, a gravel boat launch and access trail around the entire shoreline. Additionally, GFP plans to install two floating fishing piers later this year. The proposed electric-only zoning was recommended by area residents who wanted to maintain a quiet and peaceful atmosphere given the relatively small size of the water body. Commission proposed as recommended.
  • Amend the existing zoning on the waters of Family Park (Minnehaha Co.) from a No Motors Zone to an Electric Motors Zone
    GFP staff recommends amending the existing zoning on the waters of Family Park (Minnehaha County) from a "no motors zone" to an "electric motors zone" to allow for additional usage of the area by small watercraft utilizing electric trolling motors. This man-made body of water continues to receive considerable use from the general public. It is managed in conjunction with the City of Sioux Falls and both agencies have received numerous requests for additional allowances. The proposal would not affect the existing “no swimming zone”. Commission proposed as recommended.
  • Amend the existing zoning on the waters of Lewis and Clark Lake (Yankton Co.) adjacent to Canary Beach from a Public Swimming Zone to a No Wake Zone
    GFP staff recommends converting the “public swimming zone” adjacent to Canary Beach at Lewis and Clark Recreation Area (Yankton County) to a “no wake zone”. This change is proposed to better match the demands of park users. With the increased number of campers bringing boats and personal watercraft to the park, the demand for boater beaches has increased. Canary Beach is adjacent to the Gavin's campground and has seen a decline in day use swimming activity, while the demand from boaters has increased. By designating the waters adjacent to Canary Beach as a no wake zone, the park will reduce pressure on the other boating beaches that are heavily used on summer weekends. The park has two other "public swimming zones" located in the Midway and Gavins day use areas.  Both of these areas have change houses and shower facilities, while Canary Beach does not. The proposed zoning would include the waters fronting the shoreline of Lewis and Clark Lake starting at the vault toilet near the intersection of the bicycle path that divides West Midway and Gavins sections, extending in a westerly direction 400 feet and extending 125 feet in a southerly direction. Commission proposed as recommended.
    Motorboat and Watercraft
  • Add a provision to rule 41:04:05:03 that would clarify that US Coast Guard approved fire extinguishers carried on boats must be in working order
  • Amend rule 41:04:05:16 to revise the provisions for emergency signals on law enforcement boats to state that only an authorized emergency rescue or law enforcement boat may display flashing blue or red lights or sound a siren; Current language in 41:04:05:16 addresses authorized emergency rescue or law enforcement craft displaying flashing blue emergency lights. Numerous emergency rescue or law enforcement craft in this state display blue, red, or a combination of both blue and red emergency lights. The proposed language would provide for the inclusion of existing emergency rescue or law enforcement boats that display red emergency lights. Additionally, the proposed changes would align this rule with state statute (SDCL 32-33-18) that requires either a visual or audible signal to be given prior to stopping a traditional motor vehicle.
  • Commission proposed both as recommended by staff

Special Buck

  • No changes recommended by staff
  • Commission questioned how a raise in the license number may affect licenses available in the regular drawing; Special Buck licenses are valid on private land only, but may be taken in any county within the West River or East River Deer season; staff will look at what is going on with deer herd in a management area and depending on harvest may increase or decrease the number of licenses available; if objective is to raise the number of deer the primary step would be to lower the number of antlerless deer harvested
  • Moved to raise the West River resident and nonresident licenses to 600 each and raise the price of the nonresident license from $500 to $600
  • On roll call vote the proposal passed on a 6-1 vote
  • Season dates will correspond with East and West River Deer seasons
  • 600 resident licenses and 600 nonresident licenses available West River; 500 resident licenses for East River

Mountain lion

  • Proposed change to expand from only landowners to any licensed person to hunt mountain lions outside the Black Hills Fire Protection District after the harvest limit or March 31 deadline is reached
  • Remove hunting season requirements and restrictions for licensed persons that exercise state statute (persons threatened or protecting property, livestock and pets).
  • The Commission directed staff to bring forward a rule change consideration that would allow an individual to retain a mountain lion that is harvested or killed outside the Black Hills Fire Protection District. These alternative changes to administrative rule would provide a means of addressing the Commission’s request and would allow additional lion hunting opportunity to SD residents by affording all licensed persons, not just landowners, to hunt a lion outside the Black Hills. This will not change GFP’s focus of mountain lion management (South Dakota Mountain Lion Management Plan 2010-2015) which has been and remains the Black Hills region of the state.
  • Currently landowners that possess a lion license may kill and retain a lion provided it was harvested on land they own or lease. A lion killed under state law (SDCL 41-6-29.2) due to threatening a person or an individual protecting property has been retained as property of the State. Lions killed under the provisions of this statute may not be retained if desired because state law specifies the conditions in which a big game animal can be taken and possessed. Mountain lions are classified as a big game species (SDCL 41-1-1(4)) and in order for a person to take and possess such an animal it must have been lawfully taken (person must be properly licensed in accordance with SDCL 41-8-6). The alternatives, if adopted as rule changes, would allow a licensed person (whether the lion is taken in the act of hunting or exercising the provisions of SDCL 41-6-29.2) to retain a lion outside the area of the Black Hills Fire Protection District once the harvest quota or March 31 date is reached for that area.
  • The Commission voiced concern about possibly managing the mountain lion, a big game animal, as a vermit outside the Black Hills
  • The recommendation failed to become a proposal on a 4-3 vote (5 votes needed to pass)

Information
Impacts of flooding of Missouri River on fisheries

  • Senior Biologist Mark Fincel updated the Commission on some of what has been learned so far about after-effects from the summer flooding
  • Most common question did we lost rainbow smelt through Oahe Dam; set nets out below dam to check on amount moving through the dam; could not sample during peak discharge because too dangerous; both fish and bird predators moved toward the dam to feed on smelt
  • Conservative estimate loss of about 62.7 million rainbow smelt, about 41.2% of 2011 population estimate
  • Hydroacoustic study above the dam to track fish numbers over time; estimate tremendous smelt population in June of around 300 million young of year smelt; drastic decline of young of year but very little decline of adult smelt, so most of the adults stayed in the system
  • Estimate 11.4 adult million and 8.0 young smelt
  • A rough estimate loss of 70% of 2011 smelt population was lost
  • Smelt have the ability to have a good spawn and recover numbers in a single year
  • Other prey fish appear will hold near or just above 5-year average for population; gizzard shad numbers have been down, but there are signs they do very well over a mild winter and numbers may increase
  • In 2012 will try stocking gizzard shad in Oahe; will collect adults before they spawn and place them so they drop their eggs and will be available to sportsmen’s catch
  • Future scenarios: Pull off another good rainbow smelt reproduction; if poor rainbow smelt recruitment may have high gizzard shad recruitment; if neither of these two rebound will need to closely monitor walleye condition and growth, and if there is a decline move forward a year from now with recommendations to address these problems

Mountain lion hunting season update

  • Total is now 16 with 10 females taken
  • Opening weekend saw quite a few hunters take to the Black Hills and several were taken in the first couple of days
  • Slightly behind last year at this time
  • Custer State Park had 108 individuals apply for the first 15-day hunt interval, 182 in second 230 in the third interval, so interest in the CSP season has increased and there has been no problem getting enough hunters to fill the slots available; one lion harvested in CSP so far; applicants have been from around the state
  • Close to 20 total mortalities with this harvest for the year 2012
  • Four radio-collared lions have been taken; 35 collared lions in the Black Hills
  • 2,281 licenses sold so far for 2012

Bobcat populations in eastern SD

  • Staff has considered some potential changes for managing bobcats in eastern SD and has held public meetings to gather input and ideas
  • Biologist Kevin Robling presented some of the work that has been done
  • Bobcats are native to most of the US
  • Conducted research in Bon Homme, the Black Hills and in the Badlands to identify habitat selection, determine survival rates and what are population estimates
  • Home range sizes are very large for bobcats, 27 square miles in the badlands for males and 25 miles in Bon Homme County; females have a much smaller range
  • Juvenile male near Niobrara traveled over a 200 mile range
  • Need woody cover, high grasslands and the right topography; river drainages are good areas; along the Missouri River is one common area, as well as the James River corridor

Potential land exchange for a new shooting range

  • Fall River County: several months ago received a letter requesting assistance in locating an area and establishing a shooting range in their area; worked closely with Gun Club there and looked at GFP land holdings and other opportunities
  • Dismissed idea of using a GPA because felt it would detract from wildlife production on these areas; other lands had safety and other issues
  • One of the Gun Club members who is a rancher has land near Buffalo Gap GPA and a location where a shooting range might be developed; interested in a land trade
  • About 7 miles from Hot Springs and in a location that meets safety concerns; good highway access; would be able to have an 800-yard range
  • Property has been appraised; property trade has to be value-for-value, and the match of land value works in this case; an exchange agreement, condition upon Commission approval, is in place; includes an agreement on fencing and grazing
  • Will also be working locally to raise awareness of the project and get public feedback

Hunting season recap

  • Overall (Tom Kirschenman): Weather this year was much milder than the past two years and made it easier for hunters to be out in the field and was easier on wildlife survival; harvest of crops was also ahead of the past two years so did not impact early pheasant season as in the past; hunter participation remains high, nonresident pheasant hunters was down less than 5% over a year ago, which is excellent with early concerns about the drop in pheasant population; waterfowl hunting was good with so much water, in fact the distribution of waterfowl on all that water may have added to challenge of hunt; Canada goose harvest was up, which was a prime management goal to help lower the population; tracking closely the population of big game species and harvest statistics will help determine that information
  • Region 2 (Cliff Stone): Both hunting and fishing has been excellent; turkey hunting provided a great opportunity and that should continue, especially in the southern part of the region; prairie grouse hunters had one of the best falls in recent years; pheasant hunters were pleasantly surprised with how good it was in the central part of the state, area north and east of Pierre had some of the best hunting, one area with lower numbers came where heavy rains hit during nesting season in Brule County region; waterfowl seasons provided great duck hunting and saw good participation, good migration of Canada geese but sporadic hunting because birds so dispersed with all the open water, hunting should stay good through the end of the season and with colder weather concentrating bird movement; a large fire in southern part of state closed to goose hunting because of baiting, but geese haven’t been attracted to the area; antelope hunting down with lower number of antelope in some areas; good year for deer hunters, but has been a decline in deer population in northern part of the region, some areas the mule deer numbers are declining; Sportsmen Against Hunger a great avenue to encourage more harvest of deer, but some decline in region contributions to program; a portion of Mellette County was added to the Bennett County unit and there was some elk harvest; law enforcement had a pretty good year, some road hunting issues; went into some select GPA’s and created some new access trails so duck hunters could get small boats to water, and some work to improve access for people with disabilities
  • Region 4 (Doug Alvine): overall a very good hunting season and a welcome break with the weather; August Management Take for Canada goose hunters harvested over 30,000 birds and most of those from Region 4, good news after 150 goose complaints last year; Early Canada Goose season again good participation and good success with around 50,000 harvested, had around 30,000 acres signed up for access for this season; ducks spread out but excellent hunting with all the water; late freeze up so lots of opportunity; pheasant season down after the past tough winters, hunting was fair and hunting pressure was spread throughout the region, best in western part of region; number of hunting violations were down; not much grouse hunting activity; last winter took a big toll on deer population, in turn hunters found less deer, open winter meant deer were very dispersed, overall a fair rifle season, had an opening weekend blizzard that didn’t help; officers were involved in two pursuits this fall involving spotlighters; trapping was very good with good fur prices, the most trappers in many years, coyote numbers very high, many new trappers and a number of violations; biggest concern has been loss of habitat with much grassland converted into crop, sloughs burned and tilled, tree belts being removed, this will have a negative affect on wildlife populations in the region in coming years; dry fall has helped take care of some of the muskrat concerns but a wet spring may bring numbers back
  • Region 3 (Arden Petersen): Similar to other regions; successful August Management Take and Early Canada goose seasons, although challenging because not a lot of small grain field to hunt in; dove season very underutilized, a good opportunity around the population areas; great duck hunting with good local ducks and water condition, late in season migrants came in and stayed longer than normal; similar with snow geese; lot of hunters moved further west for pheasant hunting, brood route counts in region were down 50% but hunters were fairly happy with the success they had; deer season brought concerns about population throughout region, further west had good populations but eastern counties where pressure had been high the population was definitely down, lot of pressure in populated areas from archery hunters because they can stay close to home to hunt; violations fairly quiet, deer season vehicle hunting continues to be a concern, with so many roads hunters can be fairly successful staying in their vehicle while hunting; trapping had more people involved with high fur prices, seemed to be more trap and fur theft; seemed to be quite a bit of spot lighting activity going into the winter, raccoons are moving and have attracted night hunters; loss of habitat a grave concern, continued loss of CRP, draining of wetlands, this is already have an adverse affect on wildlife populations, as resource managers must find ways to counter habitat loss, when cover taken off in winter nothing available for spring pheasant hatch and other wildlife production; another problem has been drainage of wetlands from private property released onto GFP managed lands and making them less productive
  • Region 1 (John Kanta): Similar to other regions; change in policy to open fields did not have a negative affect in most of law enforcement in the area, did make a case on some hunters with WY license that shot elk in SD; some preliminary harvest info is good, some pockets with low densities of elk and low success, some of the issues include some hunter frustration with National Forest road closures but closures have also created some bigger roadless areas that has been popular with other hunters, seeing some movement outside the Black Hills along Cheyenne River and may offer some harvest opportunity, also some elk move across Interstate near Tilford, band of elk near Wasta and near Custer National Forest in Harding County, Bennett County had August antlerless season but not a lot of elk there in August so poor hunt but also little depredation; bighorn sheep had 100% success for hunt; mule deer some decline especially Butte and Meade, reports of good hunts and some nice deer coming in; limited access units went fairly well, small bit of confusion on where could or could not hunt, but overall happy with units and will follow up with survey for more public input; Black Hills deer hunters report low densities of deer, generating a population estimate for the Hills and are seeing deer and recruitment of deer, densities are lower and will continue to address those issues, preliminary success rate around 60% for whitetail; things are looking very good for turkey, Black Hills continues to be a destination for turkey hunters, a few depredation issues east of CSP and trap and relocate those birds; antelope numbers remain low especially north of I-90, see antelope but in smaller groups, seem to know where to go to get away from the guns; grouse doing very well across the region, and pockets of pheasants that have provided a good opportunity

DOW annual report

  • Both Division of Wildlife and Law Enforcement annual reports were presented to the Commission
  • Division reports summarizes major activities and accomplishments over past year, the report does not include all the accomplishments but hits the highlights
  • Law Enforcement is a fairly comprehensive report on the past year’s activities

Public Information/Communications Strategies

  • Budget information is available on website; this is general and basic information intended to make the budget income and expense easier to understand; around 700 visits with 550 unique visitors to the site over the last year, and half of those visits during the legislative session
  • Other outreach includes information meetings through Region staff that serve as open house to share information with public who attend and take input from them
  • Use of electronic media has been key to getting info to citizens about these meetings as well as other issues that connect them to GFP
  • Regional Advisory Panels where citizens who serve on those panels take information to their communities and those meetings are open to the public
  • We staff our phone services with live people to respond to the public rather than direct them to some form of automated phone service
  • Electronic media has been a focus of outreach because so many of the people we serve are connected to information in that way
  • Importance of outreach to people who may not actively hunt and fish and but who are a political force when it comes to hunting and fishing and other natural resource issues
  • Used e-mail system to identify hunters who had had a license in special access units proposed for Harding County, Perkins County and Fall River County; received 369 responses so provided a good conduit to reach people and return response
  • Getting proposal information to general public, beginning with March meeting will send an e-mail blast to individuals about upcoming Commission meeting information and follow up after the meeting with post meeting information
  • Staff continues to consider how and how much to use the e-mail resources that are available
  • Facebook another outreach source with around 10,000 friends on the different venues GFP has
  • GFP is always looking at ways to do more and better work in outreach and the agency is always open to ideas
  • Chairman Olson mentioned the possibility of visiting groups with a budget presentation

Commission at WAFWA

  • Talked about caution of how approach issues through legislature because it may come back the opposite of how it goes in; also have seen issues with animal rights groups
  • Had an interesting discussion on predator-prey relations
  • Discussion on how to get more people involved in hunting and fishing, charge for access to public areas
  • Wolves and wild horses were contentious issues