South Dakota Deer Population:  An estimated 320,000 deer in 2015, up from about 300,000 in 2014.  A recent population peak in 2009, but outbreaks of EHD and harsh winters have taken their toll.  Herd analysis at right.  Historical South Dakota hunting data and news archive.
South Dakota Deer News

South Dakota talks transferrable hunting licenses February 3, 2017 Tri-State Livestock News
... HB 1094 ... The bill would allow farmers and ranchers who operate on 640 acres or more in the state to transfer up to two licenses to an interested hunter, without payment... Of the GFP’s $48 million budget, about $7 million ... is used to compensate landowners for hunting access ...

Rapid City, City Completes Deer Harvest February 1, 2017 South Dakota, Kotatv
... South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department provided the tags early last week and the harvest of 100 deer was completed by Sunday.  This season's number is the same as last year's harvest and is based on the annual deer trend survey ...

Bill allowing landowners to sell big game licenses moves to House floor February 1, 2017 South Dakota, The Capital Journal
... House Bill 1094, which is “an act to provide for a transfer of certain landowner hunting licenses.”  Tony Leif, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department wildlife division director, testified against the bill...


Weather hits wildlife hard in northwest South Dakota January 23, 2017 South Dakota, Rapid City Journal
... unseasonably hard winter so far this year has hit wildlife hard in western South Dakota ... more than 200 deer had been taken in what GF&P calls "depredation hunts" to relieve pressure on landowners ...
      From bucks to Bullwinkle, animals hungry this winter January 23, 2017 South Dakota, Bismarck Tribune
... gotten eight calls about moose hanging around farmyards this winter.  “It’s been problematic with them setting up shop in people’s yards and not wanting to leave. We see that occasionally, but it’s worse this year. Places where they normally go — into sloughs for willow — they’ve been forced out because of snow,” ...

GFP Offers Programs and Assistance to Landowners Experiencing Deer Damage January 18, 2017 South Dakota, GFP News
   Deep snow and extreme temperatures left their mark across South Dakota in recent weeks, with the most severe areas located in north-central and western South Dakota.  “These weather conditions have resulted in deer concentrating to form several large herds. With cover and food resources limited, deer herds move into farmyards and storage areas for protection from the weather and to feed,” said Keith Fisk, GFP’s wildlife damage program administrator. “Currently, we are working on over 150 requests from across the state for assistance with deer damage to stored livestock feed.” ...

Cold and hungry deer crowding Butte County ranchers January 17, 2017 South Dakota, Kotatv
... It's gotten so bad in the last couple of weeks that wildlife officials have authorized dozens of special off-season “pool hunts” to trim the herd. “In my almost 20 years as a conservation officer I don't believe I've seen this much wildlife damage as a result of a severe winter,” ...

Sloux Falls, Authorities to remove 50 deer from city limits January 3, 2017 South Dakota, KSFY
... through the end of February, 16 people authorized by Animal Control will work to remove 50 deer ...

Rapid City to conduct deer harvest again December 28, 2016 South Dakota, Rapid City Journal
... There are 12 potential bait sites throughout the city ... The total cost for the project is estimated at about $14,000 ... The city has been doing this since 1995 ...

... We speculate that low sodium values and West Nile Virus may be contributing to low neonate survival rates in Grant County. Serum chemistry differences may be attributed to differences in forage quality and availability across study areas. Our results indicated that oil and natural gas development did not negatively affect white-tailed deer survival and health...

Rescued this deer caught in a fence on Dec 20 2016 in rural Lincoln county South Dakota


SD deer elusive after EHD outbreak November 18, 2016 South Dakota, Daily Republic
... Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD, which killed more than 3,700 deer in 2012. But EHD has made an impact again this year... More than 2,000 deer have been reported dead in 23 counties, with the heaviest losses in Brule, Aurora and Beadle counties,  ... roughly 1,500 licenses were returned as of noon Friday...

Deer tags returned after EHD outbreak November 16, 2016 South Dakota, SDSU Collegian
... An outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) in South Dakota has caused a voluntary return and refund process ...  has prompted many South Dakota deer hunters to return their purchased licenses and let deer numbers rebound in their hunting areas...

An informational presentation on how the South Dakota deer, antelope and turkey lottery drawings and preference point system works. - November 10, 2016 South Dakota


GFP Commission Approves Shed Hunting on State-Owned Lands November 9, 2016 South Dakota, GFP News
     The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission voted to allow shed antler hunting on state owned lands at their November meeting in Brandon last week.  The rule only applies to lands owned by the department, including state parks, recreation areas and Game Production Areas. The rule change does not apply to Walk-In Areas or lands owned by other state or federal agencies.

Prime deer season just getting started October 20, 2016 South Dakota, Watertown Public Opinion
...  pre-rut ... bucks begin to set up their territories and maybe a doe or two might be ready to breed. The peak of the rut usually runs the second week of November... post rut... looking for any does that may not have gotten bred ...

GF&P offering deer license refunds October 19, 2016 South Dakota, Sioux Falls Argus Leader
... reports of more than 1,200 white-tail deer deaths as a result of the disease, stretching across 38 counties. Lab testing has confirmed cases in 17 counties.... 

     South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) has received nearly 1,200 reports of dead white-tailed deer likely due to epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD).  Reports of deer loss have been documented in 38 counties, with EHD confirmed in 17 counties through laboratory testing. ... GFP is removing all remaining antlerless licenses from the following East River firearm hunting units: Aurora, Brule, Buffalo, Douglas, Hand, Hughes, Jerauld, Miner, Sanborn, and East and West Sully...

... the topic of discussion was the low number of deer we have all been seeing and the low amount of complaints ... EHD, or epizootic hemorrhagic disease, has wiped out a good part of the whitetail population in the state in the past year or two ...

GFP Commission Proposal Would Allow For Shed Hunting on State-Owned Lands October 11, 2016 South Dakota, GFP News
     The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission proposed to allow shed antler hunting on state owned lands at their October meeting.  The proposal would only apply to lands owned by the department, including state parks, recreation areas and Game Production Areas. The rule change would not apply to Walk-In Areas or lands owned by other state or federal agencies...

Associations among Habitat Characteristics and Meningeal Worm Prevalence in Eastern South Dakota  CN Jacques, JA Jenks, RW Klaver, SA Dubay - Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 2016
...   in white-tailed deer ...  Probability of meningeal worm infection increased by 1.3- and 1.6-fold for each 1-cm and 1-C increase in summer precipitation and spring temperature, respectively. Similarly, probability of infection increased 1.2-fold for each 1% increase in wetland habitat. Our findings highlight the importance of wetland habitat in predicting meningeal worm infection across eastern South Dakota ...

EHD, Deadly disease causing high white-tailed deer casualties  September 30, 2016 South Dakota, West Fargo Pioneer
... South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks has received reports of 511 dead deer since the summer, all of which are presumed to be caused by epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) or bluetongue ... the number still has not risen to 2012 levels, when 3,700 dead deer were reported ...

Deer Hunting Rules Reminder September 22, 2016 South Dakota, SDGFP News
     South Dakota big game hunters are reminded that it is illegal for anyone to place any salt or salt lick or construct, occupy, or use any screen, blind, scaffold, or other device at or near any salt or salt lick for the purposes of enticing or baiting big game animals to the same for the purpose of hunting, watching for, or killing big game...

Livestock producers need to be watchful of disease most common in deer September 18, 2016 South Dakota, Tri-State Neighbor
... epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) appears to be causing deer deaths in Nebraska and southern South Dakota ... EHD is caused by a virus that is spread by Culicoides biting midges. The disease generally peaks in late summer or early fall and ends with freezing temperatures ...

Stakeholders convene to draft deer management plan September 1, 2016 South Dakota, AberdeenNews.com
... "We have not had a statewide deer management plan," ... A group of 27 citizen stakeholders has been asked by the state Game, Fish and Parks Department to help advise in the development of a draft deer management plan... "The group has no decision-making authority,"...

Turn in Poachers Program has successful year September 1, 2016 South Dakota, Rapid City Journal
... There 449 investigations last year initiated through a citizen hotline tip, which led to 193 arrests, $30,794 in fines and $13,900 in liquidated damages...

... The projected statewide deer harvest was 52,589, a 13% increase from 2014. This estimate included 30,687 whitetail bucks, 15,997 whitetail does, 4,888 mule bucks and 1,017 mule does. An increase in overall harvest of over 6,000 deer with a moderate increase in the number of tags issued resulted in a 2% increase in harvest success from 2014...

Sioux Falls, Archery Hunt To Thin Deer In Northeast Sioux Falls August 17, 2016 South Dakota, Keloland
...  the city is teaming up with Archery Outfitters to help thin the deer herd between Interstate 229 and Rice Street... opening up 30 acres of wooded land near the Big Sioux River ...

GFP Asks Landowners and Hunters To Report Dead Deer August 10, 2016 South Dakota, Yankton Daily Press
... first deer mortality in 2016 due to hemorrhagic disease, also known as epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) or blue tongue ... symptoms such as respiratory distress, fever and swelling of the tongue ... for more information ... 

No Elk Contingency Licenses Recommended for 2016 July 28, 2016 South Dakota, SDGF News
... at the August Commission meeting, the Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) will recommend the Commission not authorize issuance of any contingency licenses... “After a discussion with the U.S. Forest Service earlier this week, we do not believe there is a sufficient enough need that exists to issue elk contingency licenses this year. Following the elk management plan, the Commission already increased the antlerless license allocation by a total of 839 to slow the growth of the Black Hills elk population,” ...complete details on the 2016 elk hunting seasons

Deer Lottery Held, Antlerless Licenses Remain July 25, 2016 South Dakota, KFGO 
... The first lottery application process – deer gun, muzzleloader, youth and landowner – had more than 102,000 applicants, and over 51,000 were unsuccessful...

GFP Commission Seeking Input on Land Purchasing Guidelines July 20, 2016 South Dakota, GFP News
... The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission is seeking input on proposed land acquisition priorities and guidelines through Aug. 3, 2016... This document sets forth GFP acquisition priorities and details the guiding principles by which land purchases are conducted. To view the document, please visit gfp.sd.gov/land-acquisition.pdf. Please email comments and feedback to Paul.Coughlin@state.sd.us.

State Legislature review committee looks at regs July 13, 2016 South Dakota, The Capital Journal
... The Game, Fish and Parks Commission is offering free hunting licenses for landowners to use on their own properties for antlerless deer.  This became legal in 2011 ...

...  the antlerless tags offered for all three hunts were for whitetails only, and not for mule deer.  "The mule deer population in the Hills is stable, to growing very slowly," he said. "We are getting comments from lots of hunters who want to see more mule deer." ... 

Rapid City, Deer making their way into town not uncommon July 7, 2016 South Dakota, Rapid City Journal
...  deer moving into Rapid City doesn't necessarily mean the predators, such as mountain lions, will follow them. "It's possible, especially in outlying areas," he said. "Sometimes we get reports of coyotes or mountain lions, but they usually don't want human interaction." ... 

GFP continuing deer research in northeast region June 24, 2016 South Dakota, AberdeenNews.com
...  preliminary results from all collared deer indicate annual survival estimates are 80 percent for adult does, 58 percent for adult bucks, 83 percent for juveniles 5-18 months old and 63 percent for fawns under 4 months old...

Keep dogs away from does and their fawns June 23, 2016 South Dakota, Rapid City Journal
... "The doe will want to protect their young ... The deer will paw at them, swing their hooves at them the same as they would do with other animals, in extreme cases we've seen dogs killed by deer." ... 

Study checks survivability on youngest deer June 13, 2016 South Dakota, Black Hills Pioneer
... from the recruitment estimate and other information such as harvest estimates and deer surveys, "we can get a population estimate. … Based upon that is how we allocate tags," he said. "Without this information, we can only take  a stab in the dark on how many deer survive... 

South Dakota Data:  About 320,000 deer in 2015 based on harvest data.  Hunters returned about 1,500 licenses in 2016 as another outbreak of EHD reduced the herd in some areas.  Estimated 2014 population of less than 300,000.  In 2015 the estimated mule deer population is 66,000 to 142,000.  Deer numbers have been down significantly in much of the state due to severe weather, disease such as EHD (epizootic hemorrhagic disease), increased predation, and habitat loss. Deer licenses were reduced significantly in 2014 to help the herd recover, doe licenses especially.  Tags increased moderately in 2015.  The spring of 2014 was dry so downward pressure on the herd.  An estimated 100,000 mule deer in 2013 (estimate range:  73,000 to 130,000) and 200,000 whitetails.  An outbreak of EHD in western Sully county in 2015 resulted in an offer of refunds for already purchased deer tags.
     Populations peaked in 2009. Harsh winters in 2008, 09, 10, and 14. Drought in 2012.  EHD hit the herd very hard in 2012.  Deer tags were reduced in the northwest because of EHD die-offs in 2013, but the outbreak was less severe in the rest of the state.  Over 2 million acres of Conservation Reserve Program acres have been lost since 2008, reducing habitat. Deer populations are down in northeastern South Dakota, coyote predation on fawns and less wheat being planted are causes under investigation.  Deer populations had a recent peak in 2009. The 2013 harvest was 25,199 whitetail bucks, 23,275 whitetail does, 4,251 mule bucks. 2,758 mule does.  The 2013 overall statewide harvest success decreased significantly to 35% from 43% in 2012.  Whitetails are concentrated in the east, but in all parts of the state.   Mule deer are concentrated west of the Missouri River, declining population due to loss of habitat, hard winters, drought.
    The antelope harvest posted a recent peak of 14,100 in 2009 but has fallen significantly to 1,935 in 2013. Fawn production fell to about 59 per 100 does, from the average of about 80 per 100 does. Management of the mountain lion population has been controversial, with the lion limit reduced to 75 total or 50 females in 2014. An estimated 225 lions in the state in 2015.  Critics say that elk have been over hunted in the Black Hills.
     "Before pioneer settlement in the mid to late 1800's, deer numbers in South Dakota were far lower than present populations. Larger herbivores, such as bison and elk, numbered in the millions. Deer could not compete successfully with these larger animals to any great degree. Unregulated hunting in the late 1800's caused deer populations to be eliminated, except in the Black Hills. Through progressive wildlife management in the 1900's, deer in South Dakota have been at record levels for a number of years."  Northern.edu

Mountain Lions  About 225 in 2015.
 
If you spot a dead deer, the State Patrol asks that you stay in your car and call 507-285-7410 
Habitat Pays is a joint effort between the South Dakota Departments of Game, Fish and Parks and Agriculture to connect farmers and ranchers to the appropriate habitat resources and help them implement wildlife habitat where it makes the most sense to do so.

Click for larger image.  Data Source

EHD information (deer disease)

Tweets about South Dakota GFP (Game, Fish, and Parks)