Beaver hunting under the microscope in South Dakota


WATERTOWN (AP) – The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks is weighing how to proceed on beaver hunting in the Black Hills and the state.

The idea for a hunting ban came up recently when the Game, Fish and Parks Commission discussed a proposal to create a year-round beaver hunting season across the state, with hunting only allowed in portions of the Black Hills not owned by the U.S. Forest Service from Nov. 1 to April 30.

“By creating one statewide beaver season (with the exception of the Black Hills) that is year-round, it simplifies this regulation and allows landowners in eastern South Dakota the ability to remove beavers that are causing damage,” the proposal states.

Keith Fisk, the agency's program administrator, said he receives at least 500 beaver complaints on an annual basis, the Black Hills Pioneer reported.

“There are a number of landowners out there that would take advantage of this opportunity to remove some of those problem beavers whether it is them practicing that or someone they know willing to come and help them out,” Fisk said.

But Commissioner Travis Bies said the Black Hills does not have problems with beavers, and the population has been greatly decreased.

“I grew up in the Black Hills all my life and have seen the beaver disappear out of the Black Hills,” he said. “They created better water for our cattle. About 15-20 years ago I noticed the beavers were gone, so we had to refill the dams ourselves.

Bies called for a study of the beaver population, a suggestion that prompted the commission to table the proposal to its September meeting.

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