GFP News - March 27, 2013
- Elk Moved into Custer State Park
- GFP Surveys Black Hills Elk
- GFP Welcomes Student Archers to NASP Tournament
Elk Moved into Custer State Park
PIERRE, S.D. - A cooperative project was recently completed to help meet the elk management goals of Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park.
Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) and Wind Cave National Park used contracted helicopters to herd elk from Wind Cave into Custer State Park.
Elk numbers were well above the population goal for Wind Cave and the preferred alternative to reduce the population was facilitated movements of elk out of the park. Elk were moved from Wind Cave to Custer State Park on two occasions - 197 elk on March 1 and another 192 elk on March 8.
The majority of these 389 elk were cows and calves. Twenty-six of these cow elk are radio-collared, allowing biologists to track their movements.
"The plan was to move elk north into CSP and west into Black Hills elk management Unit 3," said Chad Lehman, GFP senior wildlife biologist. "Jump gates were lowered and segments of fence were opened for elk to leave Wind Cave, and we were able to facilitate movement of elk into CSP. Currently these elk remain in CSP, and we will continue monitoring their movements."
After these facilitated movements, it is now estimated that Wind Cave and Custer State Park each have 500 elk.
GFP Surveys Black Hills Elk
PIERRE, S.D. - An aerial survey of the elk population in the South Dakota Black Hills has been completed by the Department of Game, Fish and Parks.
GFP biologists conducted the survey with the assistance of a helicopter company under contract with the Department, and elk population estimates were generated from the survey data using a computer model that takes into account the likelihood of seeing elk from the helicopter.
"We divided each elk management unit into several smaller subunits and began surveying in the northern part of the Hills due to ideal snow conditions," said Lauren Dahl, GFP biologist. From there we worked our way south until we surveyed the entire Black Hills. This effort utilized 20 staff observers and 173 hours of flight time."
Biologists saw 4,624 elk in the course of surveying the area within the seven Black Hills elk hunting units and the model estimated the population in this area to be just over 5,000 elk.
"The population model estimates detection probabilities for individual groups of elk seen during the survey based on the circumstances of each observation (i.e., group size, tree canopy cover and percent snow cover) and then corrects for the number of elk not sighted during the survey," said Kevin Robling, GFP big game biologist.
"We saw over 3,500 elk in Unit 2 alone and the model estimated there were 3,800 elk in this unit," Robling said. "The model estimated that there were around 700 elk wintering in Unit 3."
Robling points out that previous research conducted by the Department has documented that elk often migrate and congregate together during winter. "Winter estimates do not represent fall hunting unit estimates. We know elk cross hunting unit boundaries and even the Wyoming state line while traveling between winter and summer ranges."
A summary report of the elk survey can be found at http://gfp.sd.gov/hunting/big-game/elk.
GFP Welcomes Student Archers to NASP Tournament
PIERRE, S.D. - Students from across South Dakota will have a chance to show off their archery skills at the Fourth Annual National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) State Tournament on Saturday, April 6.
The tournament, sponsored by South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, will begin at 8 a.m. MDT at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, Barnett Arena, in Rapid City and will conclude with a trophy ceremony at 6:30 p.m.
More than 500 students will compete for individual and team honors in three age divisions. The top three individual and team winners will receive trophies, and each of the overall individual winners will also be awarded a free bow, compliments of GFP. Students who participate in NASP within their schools or home-school program are eligible for the competition.
"It's gratifying to see so many schools introduce the sport of archery into their curriculum," said Jason Kool, NASP coordinator for GFP. "Studies have shown that students who participate in NASP like school better and have excellent school attendance. NASP is a great partnership between GFP and local school districts."
There is no admission charge, and the public is invited to the archery tournament. Volunteers who want to help with the tournament may contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 605.220.2130.