Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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South Dakota GFP Commission Proposes Changes for Wildlife Rehab, Muzzleloaders, Taking Bait and Hunter Accompaniment

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission is proposing rules that would provide a formalized program for the temporary care, rehabilitation and release of some resident wildlife species.

Currently, the only allowance for such care is for the rehabilitation of migratory birds through a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Commission measure would create rules giving GFP authority to issue permits that allow approved rehabilitation facilities to care for non-migratory wildlife.

The Commission has also proposed rules about taking bait from certain waters, restrictions for muzzleloading firearms, and the accompaniment of hunters in the field.

A temporary, emergency rule is in place prohibiting the commercial and non-commercial taking of bait from the East Vermillion River, West Vermillion River, and Firesteel Creek below Lake Mitchell. The Commission has proposed establishing those closures in a permanent rule.

Another Commission proposal would ease restrictions on the types of muzzleloading firearms that can be used for seasons with muzzleloader weapon restrictions.

The changes are in response to requests received through GFP to allow peep sights and other optics that do not use magnification on muzzleloading rifles during seasons restricted to those weapons. Currently, only open sights may be used. Peep (aperture) sights are not considered open sights and are therefore illegal to use during the muzzleloader season. Past advancements in muzzleloader technology have improved the effectiveness of those guns, and they are no longer a primitive weapon. Muzzleloader enthusiasts desire the use of optics (red-dot scopes, aim points, etc.) that improve their sight picture but do not magnify the object (i.e. 1x maximum).

Additionally, restrictions on smokeless powder would be lifted, allowing commonly marketed products such as Blackhorn 209 to be used during muzzleloader-only seasons.

Finally, a rule that makes allowances for individuals accompanying hunters in the field may be changed to shift the responsibility for adherence to the rule from the hunter to the individual accompanying the hunter.

Currently, a person licensed in a firearm big-game season cannot be accompanied in the field by another person carrying a firearm or bow and arrow unless that individual has a firearm big-game license valid for the same geographic area and time of year as the licensee. The licensed big-game hunter is held as the responsible party if other armed individuals accompany him/her and do not have the same type of license.

The Commission proposal would place the responsibility for adherence to the rule on the unlicensed big-game hunter(s). In addition, the rule would allow a person who is legally licensed to hunt small game the ability to accompany a licensed big-game hunter in the field, if the person hunting small game uses only a shotgun and shotshells.

That proposal would also clarify that a person hunting small game may not use dogs in the field while accompanying a licensed firearm big-game hunter.

More information and highlights from the May GFP Commission meeting are available online at

People who wish to provide written comments on Commission hunting proposals may do so until 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1.

Comments may be mailed to Game, Fish and Parks Commission, 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD, 57501 or emailed to . Comments must have the sender's full name and address in order to become part of the public record.

Comments may also be made in person at the next GFP Commission meeting during a public hearing at 2 p.m. CDT on Thursday, Aug. 2, at the Community Center in Milbank.


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