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GFP News - February 11, 2013

  • Survey Shows 67 percent Success Rate for Black Hills Deer Season

  • Lake Trout Record Falls

  • Join the Great Backyard Bird Count

  • Publication Celebrates Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program

Survey Shows 67 percent Success Rate for Black Hills Deer Season

PIERRE, S.D. - Survey reports returned by hunters who took part in the 2012 Black Hills Deer season indicate hunters enjoyed an overall success rate of 67 percent for the season.

"A random sample of hunters received an online survey to complete at the close of the hunting season," Corey Huxoll, the Game, Fish and Parks Department hunter survey coordinator said. "The information we receive from these hunters is a vital tool in evaluating the past season and planning ahead for the next."

In 2012 there were 3,580 licenses issued for the Black Hills Deer season - which lasts the entire month of November - and 2,391 deer were harvested.

The breakdown of the harvest showed 2,008 white-tailed bucks were taken, 289 white-tailed doe, 88 mule deer bucks, and 6 mule deer doe.

Survey respondents reported hunting an average of 4.23 days per hunter for a total of 15,144 recreation days for the season. Hunters reported seeing an average of 53 deer, including 10 bucks, during their hunt.

"The number of completed surveys we receive helps ensure the accuracy of our information, and I encourage all who receive a survey to respond," Huxoll said. "Our survey respondents have found the e-mail format to be a very user-friendly way to provide the information we seek."

The complete report on the 2012 Black Hills Deer season can be found online at

The 2013 Black Hills Deer season will be proposed by the GFP Commission in May and finalized in June.

Lake Trout Record Falls

RAPID CITY, S.D. - A state record lake trout was caught from Pactola Reservoir on Jan. 23 by Aaron Jones of Rapid City.

Weighing in at 30 pounds even, the record lake trout surpassed the previous record, held by Steve Matheny, by more than a pound. Jones' lake trout measured an impressive 41 inches long with a 24 1/2 inch girth.

Lake trout are a non-native trout species present in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Stocking records indicate the first lake trout stocking in South Dakota occurred in Belle Fourche Reservoir in 1914 with subsequent stockings in various locations throughout western South Dakota over the next few decades.

Beginning in 1972, lake trout were stocked in Lake Oahe on the Missouri River system on an almost annual basis until 1985. During that time, the first recorded stocking occurred in Pactola Reservoir with stockings in 1977 and 1978 additional stockings in 2003 and 2005.

For a fish to qualify as a state record, the angler must get the fish weighed on a certified scale (available at many local grocery stores), have the species verified by a fisheries biologist or ichthyologist, and fill out a form that can be found at

Join the Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count returns to South Dakota and across the nation on February 15-18.

Millions of novice and accomplished bird watchers can make their love of nature count for science and for the future during the 16th annual count, led by the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.

During Presidents' Day weekend, anyone can count birds wherever they are and enter their results at These reports create a real-time picture of where birds are across the continent and contribute valuable information for science and conservation.

Participants from 61 South Dakota locations submitted 306 checklists during the 2012 count, reporting a total of 108 species. The most commonly reported bird species were the black-capped chickadee, dark-eyed junco, American goldfinch, house sparrow and downy woodpecker. The most numerous species reported by South Dakota counters were the Canada goose, cackling goose, mallard, American goldfinch and house sparrow.

Rapid City counters submitted the most checklists, followed by Vermillion, Sioux Falls and Pierre. Pierre birders reported 65 species, the highest number in the state.

If you are a novice or rusty birder, use the count as an excuse to hone your birding skills. Many resources can help you improve. View a series of short and helpful instructional videos at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's website:

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks has a free, color guide to backyard birds that you can request at this website:

Everyone can participate in the count, from beginning bird watchers to seasoned experts. During the count, bird watchers tally up birds for as little as 15 minutes, or for as long as they like, keeping track of the highest number of each bird species they see together at one time. People are encouraged to report birds from public lands and local parks and from their backyards.

Participants enter their numbers online at and can explore sightings maps, lists, and charts as the count progresses. There is no fee to participate, so mark your calendar for this year's Great Backyard Bird Count.

Publication Celebrates Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has released a landmark publication celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, the cornerstone of fish and wildlife conservation in North America.

This vital program provides more than $700 million each year through the sale of hunting and fishing equipment to support habitat conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the nation.

"All Americans, whether or not they hunt or fish, benefit from this program. There's a good chance that the trail they hike, the park where they watch birds, and the wildlife they see every day wouldn't exist without the funding provided by hunters and anglers," said Assistant Director Hannibal Bolton, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "In addition to providing conservation benefits, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds - along with revenue from state fishing and hunting licenses - support local economies and generate thousands of jobs."

Since its inception in 1937, the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program has generated more than $14 billion, which state fish and wildlife agencies use to purchase public land, improve essential wildlife habitat and create additional outdoor opportunities for everyone. It is funded through an excise tax on hunting- and shooting-related merchandise, fishing supplies and boat fuel. In 2011, hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers spent $145 billion on related gear, trips and other purchases such as licenses, tags, land leases and ownership.

South Dakota citizens have benefited from these federal funds on several recent projects:

  • Work on The Outdoor Campus in Rapid City
  • The Brookings Nature Park, which includes hiking and biking trails, an urban fishery, and a nature center
  • Development work on the Hill Game Production Area development in Fall River County
  • Medicine Knoll Game Production Area, development of the "Blunt Reservoir Project" into wildlife habitat and public hunting area

"The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program has been instrumental over the years in helping our agency meet our mission of managing our state's fish and wildlife," South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks' Wildlife Division Director Tony Leif said. "This level of secure funding is essential as we do our long term planning for future management needs. This publication provides excellent background to help our citizens appreciate the importance of this program and funding source."

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program is a 75-year partnership to benefit fish and wildlife, and provide Americans with access to the outdoors through a self-imposed investment paid by manufacturers and users of gear bought by anglers, boaters, hunters, and shooters and managed by Federal and State fish and wildlife agencies. Fishing and hunting licenses and motorboat fuel tax also support fish and wildlife. For 75 years, the program has provided more than $14 billion for fish and wildlife, supplied jobs for many Americans, and benefited local economies through boating, fishing, hunting, and shooting activities.

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