Come 2020, deer and elk hunts will have a very different character in SD

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Game Fish and Parks Department

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. (KELO) — Deer and elk hunters, as well as the people who process the dead animals and create trophies from prized ones, could face changes in regulations throughout South Dakota in 2020.

The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission adopted a framework Thursday for trying to contain what’s known as chronic wasting disease — commonly known as CWD — that’s riddling some populations of whitetails, mule deer and elk.

CWD affects deer and elk. So far the areas are concentrated in western South Dakota.

The commission made the new rules effective July 1, 2020, but state Wildlife Division deputy director Tom Kirschenmann told commissioners the goal is to start educating hunters, taxidermists and meat processors this fall.

The Legislature’s Rules Review Committee will decide November 4 whether the regulations should go ahead.

Chad Switzer, a Wildlife Division administrator, developed the rules proposals. The latest version is simpler than a previous one.

Switzer said he sent it to about 80,000 people who applied for South Dakota deer and elk licenses, as well as about 100 game processors, some 200 taxidermists and 25 landfills that are licensed to accept carcasses.

“As of yesterday we had about 18 official comments,” he told commissioners. He added, “These are things we can do pro-actively.”

The regulations govern how a deer or an elk should be handled depending where a hunter killed it.

“A lot of work has gone into it,” commission chairman Gary Jensen of Rapid City said.

Commissioner Robert Whitmyre of Webster asked whether there will be special tags for hunters who are licensed in the units where CWD is present, so that processors and taxidermists have knowledge of an animal’s history.

“We will have those discussions and ensure those animals are marked properly,” Switzer said.

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