Police Department’s Deer Management Program Will Continue in Sioux Falls
This week, the Sioux Falls Police Department will begin its third annual deer harvest in city limits with the goals to reduce property damage and improve the health of Sioux Falls’ deer population.
For the past two years, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks has issued a permit allowing the Sioux Falls Police Department to harvest deer from the city of Sioux Falls. The permits were issued after a comprehensive study was completed including deer population counts, property damage reports, and public input. Annual deer counts, analysis of deer/vehicle collision data, and public input are compiled each year, and then an annual report and request for the permit are sent to the Game, Fish and Parks. In 2015, 30 deer were successfully removed from southeastern Sioux Falls. In 2016, 45 total deer were removed from southeastern and northeastern Sioux Falls.
This year, the City has requested a permit for the removal of 50 deer, which will be removed from both the southeastern and northeastern portions of Sioux Falls.
During 2016, 139 deer were killed after being struck by cars on city roadways. This past fall, deer counts indicate a slight decline in the deer population in southeastern Sioux Falls, while deer populations in the Rice Street area still remain high. Traffic accidents due to deer/vehicle collisions occur most frequently along the Interstate 229 and Rice Street corridors.
Animal Control officers also scouted the area around the Big Sioux River attempting to count the deer population. During multiple surveys, they found a range of 40 to 43 deer in various parks in southeast Sioux Falls, which is only slightly lower than counts conducted last year. A herd of 40 deer were recently observed in Tomar Park. Additionally, officers counted deer in northeastern Sioux Falls, east of Interstate 229 and north of Rice Street. A total of 96 deer were observed in the 3-square-mile Rice Street area.
An archery program has been ongoing in the Rice Street area since 2010 and assists in removing deer, but the number of deer harvested by hunters has not been able to keep up with deer population growth. Additional archery opportunities were also available in 2016, including an archery hunt for first-time youth, women, and disabled hunters at the Archery Outfitters property on North Lowell Avenue. Eight deer were harvested from that location this winter.
“The City’s deer management program has been thoughtfully researched, planned, and conducted to limit the amount of property damage caused by deer, increase public safety by reducing the number of car/deer accidents, and improve the health of the overall deer population in Sioux Falls,” said Police Chief Matt Burns.
The deer will once again be harvested by Sioux Falls police officers who have completed additional training specific to deer removal. The meat from harvested deer will be donated to area food banks. Through the assistance of Sportsmen Against Hunger, more than 1,200 pounds of deer meat were donated to local food banks in 2016.
Safety for the public is a top priority when removing the deer. The deer will be discretely removed from remote areas so the public will not be in any danger during these events. The operation will be completed by February 28, 2017.