South Dakota Deer Herd Growing Too Slowly

Wildlife managers believe the deer herd is growing at too slow a pace.

The state of South Dakota recently implemented plans to grow and improve the population of it's deer herd.  Growth has been noticed. However, officials aren't satisfied with the growth rate.

Andy Lindbloom, senior big game biologist for the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks, suggests that officials are still trying to grow the population in most hunting units throughout the state. "We're still in the rebuilding phase," Lindbloom said.

Harvest rates were down in 2016 overall. Both East River and West River, a separation of the state by the Missouri River, reported a decrease in harvest rates. The lower harvest rates combined with low winter survival rates for fawns prompted new recommendations for lower tag quantities in 2017 and 2018.

Also responsible for the decrease in tag counts was a spell of EHD in 2016. This was especially true in the Eastern part of the state.

The Game, Fish, and Parks department recently presented a new proposal for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The proposal brings with it recommendations to lower the quantity of firearm tags available. The proposal recommends a 5% decrease in buck tags for East River units and 2% decrease for West River. Doe tag quantities also drop. East River would see a significant decrease of 44% from 22,100 tags in 2016 to 12,715 in 2017. Similarly, 33% fewer doe tags will be available for West River units.

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