South Dakota motorists are being reminded to stay alert for roaming wildlife, as the combination of harvest activity, hunting seasons and the onset of the rut have many animals moving across South Dakota’s highways.
“Farmers harvesting crops, the deer rut and the West and East River deer seasons being open are all moving South Dakota’s wildlife,” said Game, Fish and Parks Regional Wildlife Manager Andy Lindbloom of Ft. Pierre. “Motorists should be particularly alert right now, especially during the early morning and late evening, when deer are most difficult to see.”
Lindbloom noted that if a motorist should happen to collide with any big game animal, they should immediately contact a law enforcement agency. Additionally, if the collision kills the animal and the motorist wishes to retrieve it, they must contact a conservation officer and obtain permission before attempting to remove the animal.
“If any big game animal is killed by a motor vehicle on a public highway, any person who desires to possess that animal must notify a conservation officer prior to taking possession of the animal,” Lindbloom said. “Additionally, there have recently been a number of road-killed deer where motorists have stopped and removed the antlers from the buck deer. Removing antlers is unlawful without permission from a GFP Conservation Officer.”
Lindbloom also noted that the purpose of the law is to protect the public and possession laws. “The law separates lawfully harvested game from those killed by automobiles,” he said. “Simply allowing people to pick up roadside dead animals, either whole or in part, would compromise possession laws. For example, without this law, poachers could claim an illegally harvested animal was found along a road, and officers would be powerless to do anything about it. With this ruling, unlawful possession of road-killed big game can lead to arrest.”
He added that written authorization must remain with the carcass while in processing or storage. Additionally, no part of an animal may be sold, bartered or traded. There is no fee for the issuance of such authorization.
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