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Outside study prompts changes at GF&P

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By Bob Mercer

Capitol Correspondent

PIERRE — The outside review of big-game management in South Dakota that was ordered by Gov. Dennis Daugaard is bringing some rapid changes.

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Leaders for the state Wildlife Division will present their responses at the meeting today and Friday of the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission.

The five-page action plan became publicly available Wednesday afternoon as part of the commission’s meeting packet (On the Internet: http://www.gfp. sd.gov/agency/commission/archive/ 2013/november/infoMaterials.pdf).

Development of management plans for each of the major biggame species was one of the major recommendations made by the outside reviewers in their recommendations to the commission last month.

Since receiving the review, Wildlife Division officials developed timetables for establishing and updating the plans.

The first species under consideration is mountain lions. GF&P already has a management plan for lions, but the schedule calls for the commission and staff to clarify the population objectives at the December meeting.

Work on the elk management plan would start in December with a public survey, followed by public meetings in January and February.

The commission would review elk population objectives in March and the final plan would be adopted by the commission in December 2014.

The deer management plan would follow the same general process.

It would start in January 2015 and the final deer plan would be adopted by the commission in December 2016.

The management plan for pronghorn antelope calls for the commission and staff to set population range objectives, by hunting unit, in June.

Existing management plans would be updated for turkeys with completion in December 2015 and mountain lions with completion in January 2016.

The staff also wants to develop a template for the management-plan process that can be followed in the future, with periodic reviews part of the overall approach.

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