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Number of deer licenses reduced

DEADWOOD -- In response to deer die-offs in eastern South Dakota, the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission took emergency action Thursday that provided GF&P Secretary Jeff Vonk the authority to immediately reduce the number of licenses available prior to the second drawing of the East River deer hunting season.

All unsold licenses have been removed from deer hunting units in Bon Homme, Hutchinson, Yankton, Clay, Union and Charles Mix counties.

In addition, the commission and Vonk authorized the elimination of all unsold licenses in southern Perkins County. Hunters have also been given the option of turning in their deer license if they feel it is in their best interest to cancel their hunting plans. The license and associated tags must be returned to the GF&P licensing office before the start of that respective season. If applicable, GF&P will reinstate hunter preference points for the first drawing.

The GF&P has conducted surveillance and taken reports of dead deer across many counties in southeast and south-central parts of the state to help determine the severity of this year's Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease outbreak.

"The deer die-offs reported have been local in nature for many areas and not evenly distributed across each county," Vonk said Friday in a news release. "Because the impact of EHD can vary, it is essential that hunters check with their local landowner on the status of the deer herd on properties they hunt."

Vonk added that the GF&P is still actively monitoring the deer herd throughout the state.

"We are grateful for the cooperation we have received from landowners and hunters," he said. "We have a common goal of doing what is best for our deer herd, and we will continue to evaluate additional reports and take further proactive measures if necessary."

Hunters desiring a refund for a deer license should send their license, including all associated tags, to GF&P Licensing Office, 20641 SD Highway 1806, Fort Pierre, SD, 57532.