Sage grouse can be hunted again in 2012
PIERRE - Hunters will be allowed two days this fall to pursue sage grouse again in northwestern South Dakota.
The state Wildlife Division is proposing to keep the regulations the same for the 2012 season, which runs Sept. 26-27.
The season will be limited to public hunting areas and walk-in areas in Harding County and Butte County west of U.S. 85.
Hunters would be limited to one grouse for the season. The bird has become rare in much of its traditional grounds across the American West.
Wildlife Division game chief Tom Kirschenmann said South Dakota's population of sage grouse has been on a general decline in the past five years, but it is similar in 2012 to last year.
There were 240 males on the breeding leks . A general threshold for closing the season in other states has been 100 males.
"I believe it was 12 or 13 total birds that were harvested last year," Kirschenmann said. Approximately two dozen hunters were known to be in the field for the 2011 season.
EAST RIVER DEER SEASON: State wildlife biologists are recommending fewer multi-tag licenses for hunting deer during the East River season this year.
The proposal for the 2012 season calls for a total of 58,585 tags. That would be a reduction of 16,360 tags. There would be about 37,000 licenses of all types (single tag, two tag and three tag), a decrease of about 6,000.
The Game, Fish and Parks Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal July 9 when the panel meets again in Pierre.
The commission also is proposing fewer antelope tags this year. The recommended numbers from GFP biologists are 2,965 one-tag licenses and 1,350 two-tag licenses. Those would be reductions of 165 one-tag and 1,015 two-tag licenses from 2011.
The antelope season would be limited to South Dakota residents under the proposal, which gets a public hearing July 9 in Pierre.
SEASONS SET: GFP commissioners approved a variety of 2012 seasons Thursday including lower license numbers for West River deer and Black Hills deer. No one attended the public hearing to testify on any of the proposals.
The commission agreed to a change sought in a letter by state School and Public Lands Commissioner Jarrod Johnson to allow muskrat hunting by leaseholders on SPL tracts.
The new season for muskrats otherwise will be limited to private land, with only the owners and operators allowed to shoot the animals. State, county and township highway officials will be allowed to shoot muskrats within public rights of way.
The commission interpreted the highway restriction to also include contractors. The muskrat season will run April 1 through Aug. 31 statewide.