PIERRE – The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission recently finalized the emergency proposal to reduce Black Hills deer licenses in two units affected by last year’s Jasper fire. However, the emergency action is only valid for 90 days, so a new proposal is required through regular rules process in order to have the license numbers be effective for the Black Hills deer season.
"To have the license number reduction be effective during the time of the Black Hills deer season, the commission needed to accept a new ‘regular rules’ proposal for the Black Hills deer season," said Assistant Wildlife Director George Vandel. "This proposal, like the emergency proposal, would have Unit 402A reduce its 400 "any deer" licenses to 200, and its 300 "any whitetail" tags reduced to 150. Unit 404A would also have its 300 "any deer" and 300 "any whitetail" tags reduced by half, allowing 150 tags for each category. The public will also have 30 days in which to comment."
The proposal is a result of last year’s Jasper fire, which had a negative effect on the adult deer population in those two Black Hills units this past winter and spring. Vandel said the fire’s effects have concentrated deer onto available winter forage and left them in poor shape to migrate to their summer range. As a result, predators have also concentrated where the deer are having their fawns, and deer mortality from predators has greatly increased.
The Division of Wildlife has been conducting ongoing research in the area, and this spring’s data indicates that deer mortality in that area is already at the annual level.
"Our research indicates is that significant mortality is occurring on the southern Black Hills deer population, especially on adult females,’ Vandel noted. "Annually, deer mortality for these areas averages approximately 35 percent. To date in 2001 (Feb-June), we have already reached that annual mortality in both units 402 and 404."
To comment on the proposals, persons can attend the public hearing at 2 p.m., Aug. 9, at the Holiday Inn Express in Fort Pierre. Written comments may be sent to Game, Fish and Parks 523 E. Capitol, Pierre, S.D. 57501, or e-mail email@example.com. Comments must include full name and address.