South Dakota wildlife biologists want to increase the number of bighorn sheep hunting licenses for the next 2 years.
The Game, Fish, and Parks Commission will hold a public hearing on the plan and act on it at its meeting this Thursday.
The proposal increases the number of licenses for rams from 8 to 10 with an additional license available for auction, but also closes the Eastern Pennington Unit to hunting because of a deadly bacterial outbreak.
The Hell Canyon District would get 4 permits instead of the current 2, there would be 3 in Custer State Park instead of 1, and the Elk Mountain District would stay at 3.
Game, Fish, and Parks terrestrial section chief John Kanta says the increase in permits reflects strong herd numbers in Custer State Park and the Hell Canyon District, especially for rams of all ages.
Kanta says taking more rams will not have a negative impact on the viewability of bighorn sheep for park visitors.
Another part of the proposals moves the required orientation for bighorn permit holders from the opening day of the season to anytime before they start hunting, which Kanta says provides better customer service to those hunters.
South Dakota’s bighorn sheep season will run from September 1st to December 31st both this year and next.