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Duck Numbers Sky High In South Dakota

January 24, 2013, 5:42 AM by Austin Hoffman
Updated: January 24, 2013, 12:47 PM

Duck Numbers Sky High In South Dakota
PIERRE, SD -

South Dakota is known for some of the best hunting in the United States. While many people might think of pheasants first, ducks are also on the top of many people's list.

"South Dakota, as I mentioned, is part of the prairie pothole region, is essentially the duck factory of this continent," Game, Fish and Parks wildlife expert Tom Kirschenmann said.

2012 may have gone down in the record books for being dry, but for many years before that we had no shortage of water. That equated to the rise we saw in duck numbers. However, resident hunters were heading the other way.

"In 2000 we had a little over 21,000 duck hunters out there.  2011 we were down to just over 13,000. So close to about 8,000 duck hunters we've lost that are not participating in duck hunting over the last 10 to 12 years," Kirschenmann said.

Tom Kirschenmann with the Game Fish and Parks says although it's a loss, South Dakota is actually doing much better than many other parts of the country.

"We have a strong hold of the hunting heritage in South Dakota. So the loss that we've seen here in South Dakota is not any where nearly significant that many other states are seeing," Kirschenmann said.

In a GF&P survey, the number one reason hunters say they are no longer setting up decoys is a lack of time. It's a trend they want to change.

"We're doing as many things as we can to try to bring duck hunters back up," Kirschenmann said.

The GF&P has added more access to water on public hunting ground and made it very easy for anyone who wants to set up decoys. The agency also holds classes at its outdoor campuses to teach kids about hunting in hopes of getting them interested at a young age.

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