Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station

Fewer free state park days, Hunt for Habitat license packages changed

PIERRE, S.D. — Mother’s Day and Father’s Day might not be freebies any more for visitors at South Dakota’s state parks and recreation areas, or for anglers throughout South Dakota.

The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission has decided to end free entrance and free fishing on those two days.

South Dakota will still offer the Open House and Free Fishing Weekend statewide on one weekend in late May.

The commission also re-arranged the license packages available in the Hunt for Habitat raffles.

The pending changes go next to the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee for final clearance. The six lawmakers are scheduled to meet for the last time this year on November 7.

Jeff VanMeeteren, director for the state Division of Parks and Recreation, said two of the three comments received from the public supported eliminating the two free days. “It just didn’t have the desired effect that we thought it might,” he said.

The commission’s chair, Stephanie Rissler of Vermillion, said she didn’t receive any emails or comments. “It’s been pretty quiet,” she said.

Tom Kirschenmann, director for the state Wildlife Division, said the Hunt for Habitat adjustments are an attempt to re-energize public interest.

The new approach calls for adding two, any-deer licenses to the drawings, while dropping antelope from the multi-license packages. Going forward, the three multi-license packages will each be for one elk and one deer. One bison license will continue to be offered.

The raffles are open to residents who paid $10 per chance and nonresidents $20 per chance this year. He described the packages as “the hunt of a lifetime” for many entrants.

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