SOUTH DAKOTA LIKELY TO EXPAND ELK HUNTING OPPORTUNITIES- The elk herds are expanding their range. Local farms and ranches east of the Black Hills are noticing the impact. In response, the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department (SDGFP) has proposed expanding elk hunting opportunities by creating a new elk hunting unit. This proposal includes everything west of the Missouri river… half the state. This could also be good news given the recently reported decline in South Dakota hunting license sales.

The Proposal

On January 23, 2020, an SDGFP proposal for elk seasons explained:

“In addition, the commission proposed a new prairie elk hunting unit (PRE-WRA) that would include those portions of the state west of the Missouri River not associated with another prairie elk unit excluding Corson, Dewey, Oglala Lakota, Todd and Ziebach counties with season dates of Sept. 1 – Dec. 31.”

Reasons to Expand SD Elk Hunting

After more than 100 years of absence, the elk returning to these prairies is an encouraging win for wildlife conservation. However, families earning a living off the land are realizing losses and damage. Nick Lowrey, Pierre [SD] Capital Journal, explained the cost to these families. Elk-related complaints jumped by nearly $100,000 in 2019. Wildlife damage specialists also covered 7,000 more miles to assist landowners with elk damage in 2019 than in 2018.

Period for Public Comment

SDGFP is inviting the South Dakota public to comment on the proposed changes to expand elk hunting.

“To comment in person, the public hearing will be held March 5 at 2 p.m. CST at the Ramkota Convention Center in Pierre. Individuals can comment online at or mail comments to 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501.”

Requirements for comments to be included in public record:

  • Full Name
  • City of Residence
  • Meet Submission Deadline
    • (72 hours before the public hearing – not including the day of the public hearing)

Only residents can elk hunt in South Dakota. Should South Dakota expand elk hunting opportunities?

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