The South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks (GF&P) Commission approved amendments to an October deer hunting allocation change last week with the intention of attracting younger hunters and limiting non-resident licensing. According to the Rapid City Journal, the proposal hopes to even the playing field so that more hunters are able to get their first choice of license.
Currently, hunters have the ability to apply for each season – East River, West River, Black Hills, or muzzleloader – separately, and some applicants have drawn several first-choices in the first drawing, leaving other applicants without a license, possibly multiple years at a time. This new proposal, originally passed in October, would restrict applicants to applying for their preferred season only during the first and second drawings, then opening to allow applications for multiple seasons in the third and fourth drawings.
This proposal attracted public criticism when it was first approved in October, fielding hundreds of comments from the public and having two petitions circulated against it. GF&P Commissioner Russell Olson assumed that the criticism arose from the public’s perception that the changes would force hunters to choose their preferred seasons, despite their ability to apply for any season in the third and fourth drawings. There was also concern that the changes did not do enough to entice youth hunters or establish protections from out-of-state hunters.
The amendments passed Friday did just that. The updated proposal, which passed through the Commission unanimously, established that out-of-state hunters cannot apply for licenses until after the fourth drawing and added a bonus preference point for first-time hunters 15 or under to engage South Dakota’s next generation of hunters.
There is still a thirty-day public comment period, public hearing, and review by the Rules Review Committee before coming into full effect. The GF&P Commission has scheduled a public hearing for the proposal for January 10th. It will be held at the RedRossa convention center in Pierre at 2pm Central Time and public commentary is open online.
Read more about Game, Fish & Parks on the Black Hills Knowledge Network news archive.