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january 2014 Commission Meeting

January 9-10, 2014
Ft Pierre, SD

summary

Division of Administration Audio

Action items
Approve minutes of the December 2013 meeting
http://gfp.sd.gov/agency/commission/archive/2013/december/minutes.pdf

Additional Commissioner Salary Days

License List Requests

  • No requests

Information items
License Sales Report

  • General hunting and fishing license sales for 2013 concluded on Dec. 14
  • Revenue impact: 1st half of this fiscal year we are only behind around $30,000 due to license fee increases; had sales been similar to a year ago would have realized an increase in revenue
  • Will be down around $1.9 million from what had been projected for the year
  • Small game sales for residents was down 9,000 from what had been projected; fewest sold since 1998
  • Deer licenses 2-tag antlerless sold less than 10,000; issued fewer licenses as deer population has dropped
  • Mountain lion licenses were above projection and near 5,000
  • For nonresidents: Annual Fishing over 22,000 and one of highest totals in recent years; Family Fishing sales also very strong; Small Game was considerably below estimates and had most significant impact on budget

Legislation Update: GFP will introduce Audio

  • House Bill 1012: A bill to provide for free resident fishing licenses for certain entities teaching basic fishing skills; those entities might be schools, a governmental entity, charitable or nonprofit organizations conducting an event, class or program for the purpose of teaching basic fishing skills
  • House Bill 1013: A bill to authorize the South Dakota Building Authority to finance the construction of a visitor center and associated interpretive displays at Good Earth State Park at Blood Run
  • House Bill 1014: A bill to increase the nonrefundable application fee for resident bighorn sheep, mountain goat and elk licenses from $5 to $10 (original bill in 1987); bills that involve fees require 2/3 majority vote to pass
  • Have had 10 revisions of a bill to address public access to waters of flooded private lands; neither side likes ambiguity on what waters are open and there is some support for an acreage limit - under 40 acres would be closed if posted as closed by the landowner; the 40-acre figure relates to original instruction given to surveyors in 1868 pertaining to meandered waters
  • GFP Budget hearing not until Feb 25

Open Forum
None

Public Hearing at 2 PM Audio

Finalization
Bighorn Sheep Hunting Season Audio

  • Proposed changes from 2013 season: auction license is valid only in Unit 2; modify current boundary description for Unit 1 to only include the geographic area of the Rapid Creek bighorn sheep sub-herd population
  • No recommended changes from proposal
  • Season dates Sept. 1 - Dec. 31
  • 1 "ram bighorn sheep license" available for Unit 1 and 2 "ram bighorn sheep" licenses available for Unit 2 (one of those two licenses is the auction license)
  • Commission finalized season as proposed
  • Recently transplanted bighorns from Montana; been in works for over a year; Sheep were trapped and moved from Rocky Boy Sioux Tribal Reservation land; brought 40 sheep back and 20 went to Pine Ridge Reservation and other 20 released in southern portion of Hell's Canyon near Jewel Cave
  • Video of sheep capture available on GFP website and YouTube: Watch Here >

Petition for Rule Change Audio
Sale/purchase of cottontail rabbits and squirrels

  • Request for rule change comes from Pete's Taxidermy in Burke
  • Responding to request from clients to mount cottontail rabbits and squirrels; need to make it legal to mount and sell the same as upland game birds (cottontail and squirrel are not specifically listed in state law as species that plumage and skin can be sold)
  • Commission, in their consideration, have option to deny the petition or initiate the rule-making process to introduce a rule proposal; staff recommendation to begin rule-making process
  • Rule proposal would allow that skin of cottontail rabbits, red squirrel or gray squirrel may be offered for sale or purchase
  • Commission moved this proposal and it is open for public comment and will be finalized at March Commission meeting

Proposals
Special Buck Licenses Audio

  • Staff recommended no changes to this season from 2013
  • Commission made no changes so season is finalized with same structure as 2013
  • West River: 500 resident and 500 nonresident licenses available
  • East River: 656 resident and 0 nonresident licenses available
  • Residents may apply for both East River and West River Special Buck licenses, however, an individual can only possess either an East River or West River Special Buck license in any given year; the draw for East River Special Buck licenses will be conducted first; applicants who draw an East River will not be eligible for West River and will receive a preference point.

Public Lands Audio

  • Proposal would prohibit bait stations (as defined in ARSD 41:06:04:03) on lands owned by the department and on properties managed and classified by the department as Game Production Areas, State Parks, State Recreation Areas, State Lakeside Use Areas, State Nature Areas, and State Water Access Areas.
  • Current rule does not allow a person to establish, utilize, or maintain a bait station from Aug. 15-Feb. 1 to attract any big game animal. In recent years, there have been instances where persons have placed a bait station on a Game Production Area (GPA) or other department lands and later resulted in enforcement actions as individuals hunting over the stations have claimed not to be maintaining them. There are also instances where a hunter may not be aware of a bait station and place themselves in a precarious situation. To eliminate these situations and other associated concerns with bait stations, it is recommended by the Department that bait stations be prohibited on those lands described above.
  • Commission proposed the rule change as recommended

Public Waters

  • Proposal to amend public water safety zones in Clark, Hughes and Perkins counties.
  • Amend the date that boating is prohibited on Reid Lake in Clark Co. from Sept. 1-Dec. 31 to Oct. 20-Dec. 31
  • The later start to the boating closure will allow for additional fall fishing opportunity on Reid Lake during September and early-October, while still serving its purpose to minimize disturbance to waterfowl during the peak of the fall migration
  • Amend the existing No Wake Zone and No Swimming Zone at Spring Creek Recreation Area in Hughes Co. to include the waters within 20 feet of the breakwater as a No Swimming Zone
  • The Spring Creek Marina on Lake Oahe has been relocated to the bay that also houses the public boat ramp. The department recommends that the water within 20 feet of the floating tire breakwater structure be designated as a "no swimming zone" because the cabling and anchoring system that holds the breakwater structure in place represents an underwater hazard that makes swimming unsafe near the breakwater. The department also recommends that the “no swimming zone” in the balance of the bay be removed.
  • Amend the boundaries of the existing "public swimming zone" and "no wake zone" on Shadehill Reservoir in Perkins Co. to now include the waters fronting on the north side of the reservoir beginning 150 feet from shore directly in front of the picnic shelter and extending 250 feet to the east along the shoreline are a "public swimming zone"; the area surrounding Ketterlings Point at Shadehill has become a popular spot for both swimmers and boaters. Ketterlings Point boat ramp sits on the east side of Ketterlings Point and once boaters leave the boat ramp, they tend to travel along Ketterlings Point. Department staff has received numerous complaints regarding boats, including personal watercraft, that travel too close to people swimming in the water. Most of these vessels are operating outside of the existing "no wake zone" that is set 100 feet from shore. Extending the existing "no wake zone" to 150 feet from shore would serve to better protect swimmers and water enthusiasts from boats that are underway.
  • Commission proposed rule changes as recommended

Motorboats and Watercraft

  • The navigational rules of the road are addressed in SDCL 41:04:05. However, the list is not all inclusive when compared to the federal listing. In order to better address navigational situations and educate the boating public on the rules of the road, the Department recommends adopting the inland navigation rules as listed in 33 CFR 83.01-83.19. Incorporating these rules by reference would allow for the repeal of three existing administrative rules.
  • Federal regulations have required capacity plates on mono-hull boats less than 20 feet in length (except sailboats, canoes, kayaks, and inflatables) since 1972. Unfortunately, there are still many boaters that are unaware that they exist, unsure of what they mean, or simply choose to ignore them. Law enforcement officers encounter vessels being operated while overloaded on a regular basis. Additionally, our department receives numerous calls from the boating public regarding the laws and regulations related to capacity plates on vessels. The adoption of this rule will allow law enforcement to better address overloading instances that occur on the water and enable agency staff to more effectively respond to inquiries from the boating public. At the same time, this regulation will reinforce the importance for the boating public to understand capacity plates, their meaning, and the potential safety issues that arise when boats are overloaded. Capacity is based on an established maximum number of people the boat is capable of holding, carrying capacity by weight and horsepower of the boat.
  • Commission proposed rule changes as recommended with addition of noting weight and horsepower for overloading as well as number of people

Refuges Audio

  • Proposed rule change to reclassify Reid Lake State Game Refuge (no hunting or trapping allowed) to Reid Lake Waterfowl Refuge and modify boundary description - Current boundaries are confusing for the public and the opinions of landowners associated with this refuge feel it is important for migrating waterfowl. Though there are limited opportunities for upland and big game, reclassification of this refuge would increase hunter opportunity and simplify the boundary description for this refuge - New boundary would read: The Reid Lake Waterfowl Refuge comprises the waters within and connected to Reid Lake in sections 18 and 19, township 118 north, range 57 west and section 24 and south half section 13, township 118 North, range 58 west of the fifth principal meridian
  • Reclassify White Lake State Game Refuge to White Lake Waterfowl Refuge and modify boundary description - This refuge currently includes 640 acres of White Lake Game Production Area and 40 acres of private land. Currently, this refuge is open to pheasant hunting the second Monday of December until the end of the season. Habitat enhancement for pheasants and other terrestrial wildlife has been completed and additional habitat management is planned for the near future. Private landowner is interested in reclassifying to waterline waterfowl refuge. This reclassification would provide additional upland hunting opportunities for the public - New description would read: The White Lake Waterfowl Refuge comprises the water area within White Lake in the southeast quarter of section 25, and all of section 36, township 128 north, range 57 west of the fifth principal meridian
  • Remove the Stink Lake State Waterfowl Refuge - Boating restrictions were removed on West Stink Lake several years ago and East Stink Lake in 2013. Canada goose feeding sites for crop depredation are no longer used on this particular location. With current water conditions, waterfowl have ample places to rest and this area is surrounded by Walk-In Areas and lands enrolled into the James River Watershed CREP.
  • Remove the Dry Lake State Waterfowl Refuge - This refuge is surrounded by Game Production Areas and Lake Poinsett to the south. Pass shooting for geese does not occur like it did in the past, thus the refuge doesn't serve its intended purpose anymore. The current refuge area itself has not been a good fishery so there should be limited boating pressure on any waterfowl.
  • Remove the Bullhead Lake State Waterfowl Refuge - Given current water conditions in general area for waterfowl use, this waterfowl refuge is no longer needed.
  • Commission proposed refuge rule changes as recommended

Division of parks and recreation Audio

Information items
2013 CSP Repair and Maintenance Final Report

  • Custer Resort Company is obligated to send 5% of gross receipts on upkeep; the company has gone above that total; balance at end of 2012 was negative $186,000 and at end of 2013 was a negative $267,000
  • 2014 will work on that balance and long-term projects
  • Major projects in 2013 include rebuild of veranda at Sylvan Lake Lodge; remodel exterior of auditorium at Sylvan Lake; remodel office building at Game Lodge; remodel basement of gamekeepers cabin at Game Lodge; remodel of Creekside Cabin; electrical repairs and water heater replacements at Game Lodge

2013 Revenue and Visitation Report

  • 2013 revenue ($12,548,805.79) was up 7.1% over 2012
  • Fee Area Camper Units was up 3.2% in 2013 (279,029) over 2012
  • Park Visitation was up 1.8% in 2013 (7,062,598) over 2012

Good Earth State Park Update

  • House Bill 1013 has been introduced to authorize financing for construction of visitor center and associated interpretive displays
  • Purchase of 20 acres to facilitate entrance to park has been completed through Parks & Wildlife Foundation; will now be gifted to GFP this spring
  • Generous donor has come forward and entered into agreement to donate $80,000 per year for next 25 years for Good Earth State Park projects; intent of donor to develop park so will tie this into payment of bonds that will be authorized if HB1013 passes

Division of Wildlife

Action items
Private Shooting Preserve Permit Stipulation Agreement Consent Order Audio

  • Commission considered revocation of the private shooting preserve operating permit issued to John Chauncey doing business as Rock Creek Ranch for a period of five years
  • Chauncey entered a guilty plea in federal court for the felony offense of Conspiracy - Lacy Act Violations and has entered into a plea agreement to enter guilty pleas to four misdemeanor counts of unlawful possession of big game animals
  • One of stipulations is that he must enter into this agreement that he will not own, operate or participate in a private shooting preserve for a period of five years; part of agreement is he would waive right to contested case hearing
  • Commission approved revocation of the shooting preserve permit

Brule County Land Addition to Chain Lakes GPA

  • Chain Lakes (Holoubek) Game Production Area addition of 160 acres in southeastern part of county
  • Tract of grassland and wetland adjoining the Chain Lakes GPA
  • Management objective to consolidate GPA holdings through purchase of an in-holding and enhance public hunting opportunities; management focus on waterfowl and this is a very popular area; area includes blind used by both youth and hunters with disabilities
  • Cost $160,000 with acquisition funded through the Tony Dean's Acres grant
  • Expected closing in February 2014
  • Commission approved resolution authorizing Division of Wildlife to proceed with purchase of this parcel

Information items
Land acquisition updates

  • Purchase of property in northwest Moody County in early stages of development; 160 acre tract of restored grassland and wetland for wildlife management and public hunting; property is currently being appraised; would also involve Tony Dean’s Acres funding

Development and use of urban fisheries Audio

  • Most of good fishing opportunities in rural areas but we are becoming increasingly urban; many things compete with time to fish so long travel limits fishing opportunity; Nearly 30% of state population resides in and around Sioux Falls
  • Manage 31 urban lakes East River and 12 West River
  • Objectives to evaluate use, catch and harvest rates, return on stocked fish, and trip satisfaction of anglers; also check to see if attracting younger anglers through use of urban fisheries
  • Family Park Lake near Sioux Falls is 28 acres and supported over 25,000 angler use hours or about 1,200 angler use hours per acre of water
  • Natural lakes and impoundments still provide vast majority of opportunity and use
  • Use of fishing piers most popular
  • Catch rate at Brookings was around 1.5 fish/hour and at Family Park around 1 fish/hour; winter rates about half of those summer rates
  • Rainbow trout most targeted species by anglers, but most will fish for anything that bites; Indian Hills pond in Brookings had best catch and harvest rate for trout; anglers harvested less than 1/3 of stocked trout in Family Park, had hoped for substantially higher than that; at Indian Hills Pond harvested 90% of stocked trout
  • Northern Pike also successful part of urban fisheries; get return of 57-94% of stocked fish
  • White Bass a popular target for animals with excellent return on stocked fish; successful in some lakes and much less so in others
  • Panfish popular and yellow perch very popular as part of Family Park fall fishery
  • Urban ponds are popular because they are close to home and easy to get to; surveys indicate they do draw a younger audience than other waters; there seems to be little difference in age structure between summer when kids are out of school and other times of year
  • Popular attractions: Open water, trout fishing, harvest rates, and fishing with kids
  • Future Plans: need to improve access to existing urban fisheries; improve information transfer about urban fisheries to let users know of opportunity; determine the most effective fish stocking strategies to maximize return; create five additional urban fishing opportunities

Mountain Lion Hunting Season update Audio

  • Lion season started Dec. 26
  • 27 lions radio-collared with 23 adults; four adults were missing before season started but may show up
  • Doing a DNA study to estimate lion population and compare with radio-collar estimate to determine best way to get accurate population analysis
  • Currently 8 lions harvested with 2 adults and 6 sub-adults; last year at this time were at 21 lions harvested; no collared lions harvested and none from CSP; one lion was harvested in Lyman County
  • To date 2,600 licenses sold and last year at this time around 3,600

Pheasant Habitat Summit update Audio

  • Dec. 6 in Huron; just under 600 registered and around 400 attended on a very cold day; event was also webcast live and those who could not make it could watch via their computer
  • Cost of event around $13,000; around 50 staff helped with event; had five organizations sponsor and help defray cost and final cost to GFP will be around $4,000
  • Accumulated ideas at conference for Summit Working Group; 20 breakout sessions at the Summit plus followup emails and phone calls; will send one additional email to participants to identify their thoughts on what the most important idea is
  • 13-member working group has now been named by the Governor; there has been no announced time for first meeting

WMI Big Game Action Plan update Audio

  • Provided a chronological list of action items for coming months
  • Some immediate items include clarify mountain lion population objective; entire population of 175 is objective
  • Evaluate staffing needs and prioritize work; develop staff role and responsibilities for each big game species
  • Evaluate staff time, prioritization, and resources for population surveys, modeling and management
  • Assess and allocate sufficient staff time and resources for drafting and implementing management plans
  • Implement periodic reviews of management plans to ensure implementation
  • Strengthen agency leaders' interaction with field staff in less formal settings
  • Maintain environment where two-way communication is supported in the decision making process

Elk management opinion survey results Audio

  • Effort to get a broad picture of how hunters and landowners view elk population and how they feel about elk in general; where they want to see the elk population go
  • Elk hunting license applicants from 2010-2013 had 25,000 unique elk hunters; took a random sample of 2,000
  • Landowners from 9 county area of Bennett, Butte, Custer, Fall River, Gregory, Lawrence, Meade, Mellette and Pennington counties and identified 2,134 landowners; sent survey to all
  • 12-page mail survey with 36 questions with 62 items
  • 64% response rate for elk hunters and 61% response rate for landowners
  • Elk Population: Elk hunters felt too few; landowners slightly too few to just about right; minority felt too many; majority wanted to see population increase over next five years
  • Elk Hunting: 54% of elk applicants said they had hunted elk in SD and 49% of area landowners had; most said filling a tag was important; most said uncrowded hunt was important; most said harvesting a mature bull elk was important; fewer though harvesting an antlerless elk was important
  • Elk on Private Lands: majority of landowners in elk counties own land for agricultural purposes; portion of total income from farming and ranching was very diverse with 81% a portion, 43% at least 50% and 23% said they receive 100% of income from agriculture; nearly 59% of landowners in elk units had elk on their land; few landowners felt they had too many elk on their property; 26% said they had experienced elk depredation recently and 28% said they had requested assistance from GFP for elk depredation; 64% were satisfied
  • Elk Hunting Season: Majority of hunters and landowners were satisfied with hunting season; satisfaction higher for hunters than for landowners; most wanted equal emphasis on trophy hunting opportunity and increased recreational opportunity; fairly evenly split between those who want to pay $0 and $5 and $10 for nonrefundable fee knowing money would go to elk enhancement programs; landowners felt portion of licenses available to landowners was about right while hunters felt too may were available

Deer license refunds due to EHD Audio

  • License adjustments made in five counties
  • Bennett Co.: 111 licenses (222 tags) returned; 0 licenses pulled; 594 licenses (1,188 tags) allocated
  • Corson Co.: 79 licenses (158 tags) returned; 0 licenses pulled; 594 licenses (1,188 tags) allocated
  • Perkins Co.: 576 licenses (1,152 tags) returned; 41 licenses (82 tags) pulled; 2,015 licenses (4,030 tags) allocated
  • Sanborn Co.: 0 licenses returned; 132 licenses/tags pulled; 85 licenses/tags allocated
  • Todd Co.: 66 licenses (198 tags) returned; 72 licenses (216 tags) pulled; 378 licenses (1,134 tags) allocated
  • Total 2013 EHD Respond = 2,624 licenses (4,354 tags) returned; 1,061 licenses (1,273 tags) pulled; total of 3,685 licenses (5,627 tags) reduced
  • 2012 Totals = 2,268 licenses (4,467 tags) returned; 2,078 licenses (3,762 tags) pulled; total of 4,765 licenses (8,229 tags) reduced

Review of bow hunting requirement rules

  • Brought interested parties together to begin conversation on possible changes in archery regulations
  • Some suggestions center on new equipment that current regulations do not allow; size of broadheads, axle to axle length of a bow

DOW Annual Report

  • Commission received the Wildlife Division Annual Report, WDM/ADC Annual Report and Private Lands Annual Report
  • Specifically for legislators but available to general public via website

Special Buck License Survey Audio

  • Contacted landowners to see if they received permission from hunters prior to application
  • East River 614 applicants and 509 landowners; West River 1,311 applicants and 498 landowners
  • Contacted 220 landowners East River and found 97% of applicants had received permission from landowner to hunt
  • West River 242 landowners contacted and found 93% of applicants had received permission

Elk management stakeholder group

  • Keys stakeholders can be gathered to discuss elk management development and future
  • Will include all interests including US Forest Service, Dept of Agriculture, SD Wildlife Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Black Hills sportsmen club, SD Cattlemen, SD Stockgrowers, Spearfish Grazing and more
  • Hope to get group together 2-3 times over next year as draft elk management plan

2014 Election of Officers

  • This item was held over until new appointments are in place

Next meeting
March 6-7
Holiday Inn Express in Fort Pierre