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GFP News - December 23, 2014


 

Gray Wolf an Endangered Species throughout South Dakota

PIERRE, S.D. - Following a legal decision in federal court, the gray wolf is again an endangered species throughout South Dakota.

Gray wolves in eastern South Dakota had been delisted by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service final rule effective in 2012. That rule has now been overturned in court. Prior to the court decision, gray wolves could be harvested in eastern South Dakota, but remained protected in western South Dakota. Awareness of this status change is important for landowners and livestock producers as well as for sportsmen and women. 

Livestock producers cannot legally take a gray wolf, even if they suspect it to have killed livestock.  “First and foremost, if livestock producers experience livestock depredation from a suspected wolf, they need to contact their local South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) wildlife damage specialist or regional GFP office immediately,” said Keith Fisk, GFP wildlife damage program administrator. “If the livestock loss is determined to have been possibly caused by a gray wolf, we will work directly with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to address the problem.”

In 2013, the South Dakota Legislature enacted a statute pertaining to hunting wolves in South Dakota stating “wolves may only be hunted, taken, or killed in any area of the state in which the State of South Dakota has preeminent authority over the management of wolves.”  The federal court’s decision to set aside the delisting decision means the State of South Dakota no longer has authority over the management of wolves east of the Missouri River in South Dakota.

With this decision, harvesting gray wolves through recreational hunting or trapping in eastern South Dakota is prohibited. However, an endangered species, such as the gray wolf, may be taken in defense of human life.

Grant Funding to Aide in Youth Conservation Education

PIERRE, S.D. - Learning about the outdoors and conservation are important experiences for youth. To help make that happen, a fund established in honor of a family that is well-known to the outdoor community will again be awarding grants in 2015.

Working in cooperation with the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation, the Tony and Dar Dean Outdoor Education Fund provides grant funding for projects associated with youth conservation education in South Dakota. 

These grants are intended to provide resources and support to individuals and organizations desiring for quality outdoor educational experiences. Grant funds are eligible to be used in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to: funding travel for students or groups to educational events; providing supplies and materials to promote outdoor knowledge and skills; creating new activities and events to increase outdoor knowledge and participation among South Dakota families and youth.

Grant proposals are being accepted from Jan. 1 through March 15, 2015. Grant awards will be a minimum of $500 to a maximum of $1,500. A total of $4,000 is available to applicants for calendar year 2015 to apply to activities and projects that will be completed in 2015 or 2016.

Applications for the Tony and Dar Dean Outdoor Education Fund grant program must be submitted online through the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation at www.parkswildlifefoundation.org. A program summary can be found here as well as at www.TonyDean.com. For additional information, please contact John Cooper at 605.222.7582 or Wayne Winter at 605.773.4503.

About the Tony and Dar Dean Outdoor Education Fund: The Tony and Dar Dean Outdoor Education Fund was established in memory of outdoor broadcaster and writer Tony Dean (who died in 2008) and his wife Dar Dean, an outdoor enthusiast who has a strong commitment to enhancing outdoor education opportunities. The fund committee would like to build the fund so a larger number of grants can be awarded in the future.  For information on making a tax-deductible contribution to the Tony and Dar Dean Outdoor Education Fund, visit www.parkswildlifefoundation.org.

Black Hills Snowmobile Trails Ready for Holiday Weekend

PIERRE, S.D. - A white Christmas is not only pretty, it also makes for great snowmobiling. More than 12-15 inches of snow fell in parts of the Black Hills overnight, granting many snowmobile enthusiasts their holiday wishes.

“Folks have had to be a little patient this year, but it was well worth the wait,” said Shannon Percy, Black Hills Trails district supervisor. “This snowfall will create optimal conditions in several areas of the Black Hills.”

The central, east and northern portions of the 350-mile trail system received the most snow. Lighter amounts fell in the southern portions.

“Grooming operations will begin this evening and will continue throughout the rest of the week,” said Percy. “We anticipate these great conditions to last through the holiday weekend.”

Percy also reminds riders to be aware of obstacles due to the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic.

“Snowmobilers should be aware that trees, broken tree tops and dangling branches can fall at any time while riding on and off-trail,” said Percy. “Please be aware of your surroundings as trees and debris may cause obstructions.”

New this year, resident and non-resident snowmobilers with unlicensed sleds may purchase a 5-day, temporary snowmobile permit online at http://gfp.sd.gov/to-do/snowmobile/license.aspx. The permit costs $40. In the past, this permit was only available at select trailside vendors, but now, riders can purchase it on their personal mobile device before they hit the trails.

The East River snowmobile trails system is still waiting for snow, having received only rain and a light dusting of snow overnight.

Snowmobilers can keep up-to-date on current trail conditions online at gfp.sd.gov/snowmobiling as well as on the SDGFP Outdoors mobile app. Trail condition updates are also posted to Twitter accounts dedicated to both the Black Hills and the East River trails (www.twitter.com/SDsnowBHills and www.twitter.com/SDsnowEast).

For more information about snowmobiling in South Dakota, visit gfp.sd.gov/snowmobiling or call 605.584.3896 for Black Hills trails information or 605.882.5200 for East River trails.

-GFP-

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