Eye on KELOLAND: Get otter here


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota, as we all know, is a big hunting state. But there are several new proposed hunting rules.

There’s even a new trapping season to get more people, especially younger generations, more involved in the outdoors.

KELOLAND News recently told you about the resurgence of river otters.

There are now so many, they’ve been removed from the protected species list.

Now the Game, Fish and Parks Commission finalized a proposal to create a conservative trapping season for river otters.

“Basically it’s a result of our river otter population in the eastern third part of the state is doing really well, growing continuously and doing really well and finally large enough where we can support a sustainable season,” Game Fish & Parks Regional Wildlife Supervisor, Josh Delger said.

Otters primarily stick to the water and eat mostly fish.

“Otters can get pretty big in size, the biggest one I’ve seen was about 5 feet in length, that’s pretty large, typically they are three feet long from nose to tail,” Delger said.

The season will be limited to portions of eastern South Dakota and only open to South Dakota residents.

“It’ll be one per trapper and we’ll have a harvest limit of 15 and once we hit that number, we’ll close the season 24 hours after that,” Delger said.

Another aspect of hunting that the Game, Fish & Parks Department is looking at is an experimental 2-tiered duck season.

“The number of duck hunters in South Dakota, unfortunately, have been declining since the mid 90’s,” Regional Supervisor Emmett Keyser said.

To entice more people into taking up duck hunting the GF&P is proposing two options for hunters to choose from.

Tier 1 is the current set of rules.

Hunters would be allowed six ducks total with no more than five mallards (two of which could be hens), three wood ducks, three scaup, two redheads, two canvasback or one teal.

If it sounds complicated, it kind of is, especially for those who are just getting started.

That’s why the GF&P is proposing option two also known as the 3-splash rule. It would allow hunters a bag limit of three ducks of any species and sex.

“One of the challenges of being a duck hunter is you need to know your ducks and you actually have to be able to identify them on the wing in flight; it’s a challenge and does take time to learn, because a lot of people don’t grow up duck hunting,” Keyser said.

If the new rules pass the commission, they’re hoping more people will take up duck hunting in the future.

“It’s a great opportunity, here in South Dakota we have lots of wetlands and it’s a great opportunity to hunt ducks,” Keyser said. “The idea is to not only get young hunters, but also those middle age guys and gals, particularly women, it’s an opportunity to get out in the field and learn about nature and the sport of hunting itself and see the great opportunities we have in our state,” Keyser said.

Commissions from both Nebraska and South Dakota will have to approve the experiment, which would begin in the 2021-22 duck hunting season and run for a minimum of 4 years.

The limited otter trapping season will be open from sunrise on November 1 to sunset on December 31.

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