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GFP News - June 19, 2015

Importance of Boating Safety this Summer

PIERRE, S.D. -- With the approach of the Fourth of July holiday, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) is joining a national effort to highlight boating safety.

Operation Dry Water will take place June 26-28, 2015, promoting boating safety and responsible use of alcohol while boating across the country.

Alcohol consumption and boating continues to be an issue and is listed as the leading known contributing factor in all fatal boating accidents nationwide. As part of the national event, GFP will conduct extra boating safety patrols statewide to promote safe and responsible boating practices heading into the Fourth of July holiday.

"Our conservation officers conduct these safety patrols throughout the year," said Brandon Gust, GFP boating law administrator. "As we move into the peak boating season, we feel we can use our presence to share the message that safety is an essential element of any boating experience."

Having a safe and sober operator is always a critical part of boating, and Gust added there are other items to account for as well.

"Before heading onto the water, check your equipment," he said. "Fire extinguishers, life jackets, throwable flotation devices and other equipment must be in good working condition. The best way to prevent an unwanted tragedy on the water is to be prepared."

The majority of boats in South Dakota are required to carry:

Gust noted that state regulations require all children under age seven to wear an approved personal flotation device anytime a boat is moving at greater than no-wake speed. He recommends taking the next step and keeping a personal flotation device on all occupants in the boat at all times.

If boaters are uncertain what safety equipment they are required to have onboard, Gust suggests they view the 2015 South Dakota Boating Handbook online at

"Boating is all about having fun. Our boating safety patrols have a secondary role of law enforcement," Gust said. "Our primary goal is to share the message with the boating public that safety is the most important factor to a fun outing. We want everyone to have an enjoyable boating season."

Missouri River Walleye Length Limits Change

PIERRE, S.D. -- The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) would like to remind anglers that during the months of July and August, there is no minimum length restriction for walleyes on Lake Sharpe, Francis Case or on the portion of the Missouri River from the point where the river becomes Dakota/Nebraska border upstream to Fort Randall Dam.

Anglers are only allowed one fish over 20 inches in their daily limits and possession limits remain the same.

Lake Oahe has no minimum length restrictions for walleye and the stretch of the Missouri River that defines the South Dakota/Nebraska border, including Lewis and Clark Reservoir, will retain the 15 inch minimum walleye length limits.


Prairie Dog Control Programs Available

PIERRE, S.D. -- Officials of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) and the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) are reminding South Dakota ranchers and producers to contact GFP or SDDA if they have unwanted prairie dogs.

GFP and SDDA cooperatively fund the prairie dog control program with GFP managing private property encroachment of prairie dogs from public lands and the SDDA managing encroachment between private landowners.

"GFP will control prairie dogs that have encroached unto private land from adjacent public land,” said Keith Fisk, GFP wildlife damage program administrator. "However, landowners who have encroachment problems on their property from adjacent public land must be within one mile of the public land and have at least 20 acres (of actual prairie dog colonies) to be eligible for assistance." Additionally, landowners must contact GFP and request assistance regarding unwanted prairie dogs before August 15, 2015. "GFP provides assistance to many landowners across western South Dakota," said Fisk. "This deadline allows GFP sufficient time to coordinate the logistics of our control program."

If a landowner has a complaint regarding prairie dogs encroaching from public land, they should contact 605.773.5913 to request control. Once eligibility has been verified, GFP staff or a department representative will control the invading colony on the private land later this fall.

Landowners who are experiencing encroachment from adjoining private land need to contact the SDDA. If the colony is encroaching from private land, a signed written complaint must be completed. There are two methods to file a complaint. The first option is for the affected landowner to sign a letter of complaint and mail it to the local County Weed and Pest Board. The second method requires filling out a formal complaint form, available by calling 800.228.5254 or by visiting must be sent to SDDA as well as to the landowner with the invading colony. The mailing address for the SDDA is 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501. Notices of private land encroachment may be sent in throughout the year.


2014 HuntSAFE Instructor Awards Announced

PIERRE, S.D. - The Onida HuntSAFE Instructor team and an instructor from the Tea community have been chosen as the 2014 State of South Dakota HuntSAFE Instructors of the Year.

Brian Fowlds of Tea was chosen as the 2014 Statewide HuntSAFE Instructor of the Year from a group of regional individual winners across the state. During his short four years as an instructor, Fowlds has certified numerous students in the HuntSAFE program. “I can confidently say that the establishment and past success of the HuntSAFE and Step Outside programs in the Tea community would not have been possible without the tireless effort Brian has put in,” said Lincoln County conservation officer, Nate Stukel, who nominated Fowlds for the award. “I have had the opportunity to work with Brian for the past two years with both the Tea HuntSAFE and Step Outside programs. Brian has played an integral role in my personal involvement and development with HuntSAFE.”

Additionally, each year teams of instructors are nominated for the instructor team of the year award. The Onida HuntSAFE team was selected amongst four other team candidates as the Statewide HuntSAFE Instructor Team of the Year for 2014.

The Onida team consists of Bill Stahl, Mike Wiley and Andy Schmahl. “Bill and Mike work together to provide an interesting and informative opportunity where students are encouraged to ask questions,” said Schmahl. “They work together to provide a quality experience for the students beyond the standard required education by mixing up personal experience stories with hands-on presentations placed throughout the general curriculum.”
Bill Stahl and Mike Wiley of Onida are recognized for winning their
regional and statewide instructor team of the year award.

“Without the dedication of hundreds of HuntSAFE volunteers across the state, the hunting heritage of South Dakota would be in jeopardy,” said Jason Kool, GFP HuntSAFE coordinator. “Brian and the Onida team exemplify the passion for safe hunting and conservation that all HuntSAFE instructors have.”

2014 Regional Winners
Regional individual winners for the 2014 individual awards included Duane Weber of Custer, Tim Pravecek of Winner, and Gary Jaeger of Goodwin.

The regional team winners for 2014 included the Sturgis Team of Linn Hendrickson, William Coshow, Ward Dobler, John Tesnow and Randy Brennick; the Marion Team of Dean Tieszen, Scott Tieszen, Barclay Smith, Larry Hopf, David Viet and Mike Schmidt; and Webster Team of Mike Dunse, Jeff Snell, and Ralph Oakland.

Winners received embroidered vests and plaques recognizing their accomplishments. Additionally, Brian Fowlds received an embroidered jacket recognizing him as the HuntSAFE Instructor of the Year for 2014.

2014 Leo Gaspar Extraordinary Contribution Award Winner
Originating out of the 2013 HuntSAFE Instructor Survey, two awards were created to recognize an individual instructor and a Conservation Officer who goes above and beyond to provide support to the HuntSAFE classes and to their local community.

Randy Vallery, an instructor from Nisland is the winner of the Leo Gaspar Extraordinary Contribution Award for 2014. “Randy epitomizes what dedication to volunteer service is,” said Bill Eastman, GFP conservation officer from Belle Fourche. “He is a very passionate instructor in HuntSAFE and the Hunting 101 Class offered through the Rapid City Outdoor Campus. A landowner, HuntSAFE volunteer, rancher and family man, Randy has been invaluable to the program and community.”
Randy Vallery from Nisland accepts the 2014 Leo Gaspar Award.

2014 HuntSAFE Conservation Officer of the Year
Andy Petersen, conservation officer from Mitchell, was selected as the 2014 HuntSAFE Conservation Officer of the Year. “Andy has gone above and beyond in Mitchell and has been the best conservation officer that we’ve had in my time as an instructor,” said Jay Larson, an instructor from Mitchell who nominated Petersen.

“These award recipients are just a few of the instructors and instructor teams who consistently put forward a quality learning experience and all share a passion for hunting and its future in South Dakota,” stated Kool. “We’re grateful for the commitment and dedication instructors provide to the HuntSAFE program every year.”


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