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GF&P Aims To Bump Up Elk Population

Wind Cave National Park
National Park Service

The South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Department wants to increase the number of elk in the Black Hills.

Currently officials estimate the Black Hills wintertime elk population at about 6,300.  They hope to boost that to 7,000 over the next five years. 

Chad Switzer is with the Game Fish and Parks Department in Pierre.   Switzer says the elk population is growing.  

He says officials want to keep that growth in check with increased hunting this spring.

“Based upon that growth and where we want to get in the Black Hills it’s time to start implementing some increased harvests on those females within that population.  So, we want to still continue to grow but we want to grow at a slower rate," says Switzer.  

Switzer says this year the Game Fish and Parks commission decided to increase the number of elk cow licenses to 500 that’s up 250 from last year.   

He says the elk population estimate does not include the number of animals in Wind Cave National park and Custer State Park.   

He adds the state’s new Elk Management Plan was developed in conjunction with a number of interested parties and included a range of public comments.

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