Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

SD: Conata Basin Closed To Prairie Dog Hunting

As prairie dog shooters from across the nation head to South
Dakota, the Department of Game, Fish and Parks and U.S. Forest
Service remind hunters that the Conata Basin remains closed
year-round to all prairie dog shooting.

“A new law this year did not change the status of the Conata
Basin, south of Wall, South Dakota,” explained Keith Fisk, GFP
Wildlife Damage Program administrator. “The Conata Basin remains
closed. It is managed by the Forest Service, which has the
authority to keep the area closed because of the endangered
black-footed ferret.”

The new state law that went into effect July 1, 2011, allows
prairie dog shooting to occur year-round with no possession limits
on most public lands in South Dakota. However, each government
agency managing public property retains the authority to close
specific areas in certain situations.

Because the Conata Basin is a critical habitat component for
reintroduction of the black-footed ferret, prairie dogs may not be
hunted there.

“Our annual surveys indicate that the Conata Basin continues to
provide habitat for about 100 black-footed ferrets,” said Ruben
Leal, Forest Service district ranger. “This area is very important
for the continued effort of ferret reintroductions and remains
closed to all prairie dog shooting activities.”

Typically, ferret family groups will engage in play behavior in
the early morning and early evening, leaving the animals vulnerable
to shooting. At extended shooting distances, it can be nearly
impossible to distinguish between prairie dogs, burrowing owls, and
ferrets emerging from prairie dog burrows.

The restriction on prairie dog shooting in the Conata Basin
prevents the accidental killing of ferrets and helps maintain
quality ferret habitat with a sufficient food source (prairie
dogs). It also is safer for agency personnel monitoring the

People caught shooting prairie dogs in the Conata Basin face
citations and substantial fines.

For more information on the Conata Basin and its ban on prairie
dog shooting, contact the U.S. Forest Service in Wall, South Dakota
at 605-279-2125. For other inquires regarding prairie dogs, contact
GFP at 605- 223-7660 or visit:



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