Summer camping reservations open soon in state parks

The first day to make camping reservations is Feb. 16 for a Friday, May 17, arrival — the State Parks’ Open House Weekend and traditional kick-off to the summer season.

Reservations for other summer dates will follow in succession, becoming available 90 days before arrival; over 40 parks offer camping reservations on the 90-day schedule. The exception is Custer State Park, which offers reservations one year before arrival.

State Parks Director Katie Ceroll encourages campers to keep an eye on the calendar and make reservations for camping trips as soon as possible. Memorial Day reservations open Feb. 23 for a Friday arrival, and campers can reserve for Father’s Day weekend starting March 16.

Campsites become available at 6 a.m. Mountain Time on the first day of the 90-day window, but reservations for available campsites can be made until the day you arrive.

Reservations can be made online at campsd.com or by calling 1-800-710-2267. Taxes and reservation fees may apply.

Information sought in rash of golden eagle shootings

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (SDGF&P) are seeking information on the shooting death of a two-year old male golden eagle found in southwestern Sully County, South Dakota. The golden eagle was radio collared and registered a “dead” signal as it was being tracked by Service Biologists out of Alaska. The golden eagle in its two year lifespan had traveled to the states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, through the Canadian Rocky Mountain Provinces and to Alaska and back before being shot and killed.

Service agents retrieved the golden eagle on Jan. 29 after the mortality signal had been received earlier in the week. Within the last five weeks, three other eagles have been shot and killed within central South Dakota. The Service estimates that close to 1,000 golden eagles are shot illegally each year, and that this accounts for a substantial portion of mortality in the species.

If you have any information about this or any eagle shooting in South Dakota please contact the Service’s Pierre, South Dakota, Office of Law Enforcement at 605-224-9045 or lawenforcement@fws.gov as well as the SDGFP Turn In Poachers (TIPs) Hotline at 1-888-OVERBAG (1-888-683-7224) or online at gfp.sd.gov/tips.

Lovers Leap Hike and Escape to the Park set

The Lovers Leap Hike in Custer state park is Saturday at 9 a.m. or noon. Pre-registration is required for this hike, please call the Park Office at (605) 255-4515 to register. Lovers Leap Trail is moderate to strenuous and participants should dress for the weather and activity level. The trail may be icy in certain areas depending on weather conditions and is not recommended for young children. Hikes will depart from the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center (US Hwy 16A across from the State Game Lodge).

The Escape to the Park program is Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. at the Visitor Center. Chad Kremer, the Custer State Park Bison Herd Manager, will be in to talk about the history of the park’s bison herd from the founding 36 head to our current herd status and management strategies.

A park entrance license is required to enter the park and can be purchased at the Park Office from 8 a.m. to 4:30 pm during the week, or at the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center, located at the intersection of Hwy 16A and Wildlife Loop Road, is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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