Gray Wolf an Endangered Species throughout South Dakota
PIERRE, S.D. – Following a legal decision in federal court, the gray wolf is again an endangered species throughout South Dakota.
Gray wolves in eastern South Dakota had been delisted by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service final rule effective in 2012. That rule has now been overturned in court. Prior to the court decision, gray wolves could be harvested in eastern South Dakota, but remained protected in western South Dakota. Awareness of this status change is important for landowners and livestock producers as well as for sportsmen and women.Â
Livestock producers cannot legally take a gray wolf, even if they suspect it to have killed livestock.Â “First and foremost, if livestock producers experience livestock depredation from a suspected wolf, they need to contact their local South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) wildlife damage specialist or regional GFP office immediately,” said Keith Fisk, GFP wildlife damage program administrator. “If the livestock loss is determined to have been possibly caused by a gray wolf, we will work directly with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to address the problem.”
In 2013, the South Dakota Legislature enacted a statute pertaining to hunting wolves in South Dakota stating “wolves may only be hunted, taken, or killed in any area of the state in which the State of South Dakota has preeminent authority over the management of wolves.”Â The federal court’s decision to set aside the delisting decision means the State of South Dakota no longer has authority over the management of wolves east of the Missouri River in South Dakota.
With this decision, harvesting gray wolves through recreational hunting or trapping in eastern South Dakota is prohibited. However, an endangered species, such as the gray wolf, may be taken in defense of human life.
–S.D. Game, Fish and Parks
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Oct. 23, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News