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GFP seeking bighorn sheep, goat management comments 

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) is currently seeking public comments on two different big game management plans.

All individuals interested in the draft version of the bighorn sheep management plan have through Wednesday, Feb. 21 to provide comments. Written comments on the plan can be sent to 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, South Dakota 57501, or emailed to BighornSheepPlan@state.sd.us and must include your full name and city of residence. A final version of the revised plan, which includes consideration of public comment, is scheduled to be presented to the GFP Commission at the April meeting in Rapid City.

The other drafted management plan includes one on mountain goats. All individuals interested in mountain goat management have through Sunday, March 18 to provide comments. Written comments on the plan can be sent to 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, South Dakota 57501, or emailed to MountainGoatPlan@state.sd.us and must include your full name and city of residence. A newly developed final plan, which includes consideration of public comment, is scheduled to be presented to the GFP Commission at the May meeting in Custer.

To request a printed copy of either of these drafted management plans, please call 605.773.3387 or download them online at https://gfp.sd.gov/management-plans/.

GFP Commission proposes catch and release rule for muskies

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission rejected a petition to increase the minimum length limit for muskie and tiger muskie fisheries in South Dakota. Instead, the GFP Commission proposed changing the harvest restrictions for these fish from a statewide 40-inch minimum length limit and a daily limit of one fish, to a catch and release only.

A petition was submitted to the GFP Commission requesting that the length limit for harvesting a muskie be increased from the current 40 inches to 50 inches. Currently, South Dakota has five lakes that are managed for this fish species. They are Lynn and Middle Lynn in Day County, West Highway 81 in Kingsbury County, Sinai in Brookings County and North Island Lake in McCook and Minnehaha Counties.

Muskie populations in these lakes are supported by stocking 9-12 inch fish every other year. Muskies over 50 inches have been documented in lakes with a longer history of muskie management, such as Lynn Lake.

The GFP Commission will consider adopting the catch and release regulation on March 1-2 at the Pierre RedRossa Convention Center. To comment in person, the public hearing will be held March 1 at 2 p.m. CST. Individuals can also provide written comments on commission rule proposals by sending them to 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501, or via email to wildinfo@state.sd.us. To be included in the public record and to be considered by the Commission, comments must include a full name and city of residence and meet the submission deadline of 72 hours before the public hearing (not including the day of the public hearing) per HB 1006.

Enjoy eagles and bagels at Oahe Downstream Recreation Area

Visitors of the Oahe Downstream Recreation Area near Fort Pierre have the opportunity to learn about the park's winter residents and enjoy a snack on the 16th Annual Eagles and Bagels Walk in the Park on Saturday.

Program attendees will learn about eagles from a program presentation and then have the opportunity to view and ask questions about the bald eagles on a guided walk.

The program begins at 8 a.m. MST at the Oahe Downstream Group Lodge. Information will be presented highlighting eagles, their habitat and tips and proper conduct for viewing and photographing.

The group will travel into the park for a two mile guided walk (weather permitting) to observe the birds in their natural setting. The hike will include a number of stops to view the birds and answer questions. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars, cameras, comfortable hiking shoes and cold weather clothing.

Following the hike, guests are invited back to the lodge for snacks and refreshments sponsored by Lynn’s Dakotamart.

For those who are not sure they can complete the entire distance, a shuttle is available.

There is no charge for the guided walk, but a park entrance license is required and available at the park. For more information, call 605-223-7722.

The Oahe Downstream Recreation Area is located five miles north of Fort Pierre off SD highway 1806.

For more information on state park programs, visit gfp.sd.gov or call 605-773-3391.

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