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Non-residents will get a shot for antelope hunting licenses

FORT PIERRE — Not everyone is pleased that some South Dakota licenses for hunting antelope will be available to non-residents this fall.

John Simpson, of Pierre, didn't speak directly to the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission at the public hearing Tuesday, but he made his opinion known.

"It makes no sense to reduce resident tags and increase non-resident tags," Simpson wrote to the commission.

He said hunting guides drove the decision to designate some antelope licenses for non-residents.

There will be 2,705 single-tag licenses available for South Dakota residents and 61 single-tag licenses available for non-residents for the 2014 antelope season that runs Oct. 4 through Oct. 19.

Last year there weren't any non-resident licenses for antelope.

The commission approved the 2014 regulations Tuesday. There will be cuts of 115 single-tag licenses and 405 two-tag licenses for South Dakota hunters. That's a total reduction of 925 tags for South Dakotans.

Last year the commission made 3,225 licenses and a total of 4,006 tags available. Hunters took 1,454 bucks and 480 does and fawns for a success rate of 48 percent.

As recently as 2009 the harvest was 14,100 for a 44 percent success rate. The harvest has steadily declined each year since then, while the harvest rate has varied from 44 percent to 53 percent.

GF&P biologist Andy Lindbloom presented the revised antelope management plan. He said it's the first time that hunting-unit objectives were used.

As examples, he said populations are low in Butte and Harding counties and on target for Fall River County.

"If we can manage within 15 percent of an objective, that would be ideal. That's what we're shooting for," Lindbloom said.

Statewide the objective would be about 68,000, he said.