Friday, December 13, 2013

Grey Wolf Delisting Comments Due - Tues., Dec 17th, 2013

The grey wolf delisting public comment period
 was extended up to December 17th, 2013 because of the government shutdown.  For more info from the USFWS on extension:   
USFWS original (pre-extension) directions on commenting:

Or Visit Defenders of Wildife page for commenting guidance:

Or visit Earth Justice for commenting guidance: 

Or Wild Earth Guardians for commenting guidance:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Bird Counts - 2013-2014

114th Christmas Bird Count Announcements


      The National Audubon Society's (NAS) longest-running wintertime tradition, the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), will take place throughout the Americas from Saturday, December 14, 2013 to Sunday, January 5, 2014.
      There will be at least 12 Christmas Bird Counts in West River SD and Black Hills of Wyoming, 10 of which are official counts that contribute data to the National Audubon Society's  (NAS) database.

What are Christmas Bird Counts (CBC)?
        Each Christmas season tens of thousands of volunteers will count and record each individual bird and bird species they encounter during one calendar day, within a 15-mile diameter circle.  The results are compiled into the longest running database in ornithology, representing over a century of unbroken data on trends of early-winter bird populations across the Americas. The censuses provide valuable data about the number of bird species and numbers of each species occurring within set geographic areas on an early winter day.
        Last year's count shattered records.  A total of 2,369 counts and 71,531 people tallied over 60 million birds of 2,296 different species. Counts took place in all 50 states, all Canadian provinces, and over 100 count circles in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands.  Three new counts were even welcomed in Cuba, where for the first time ever the tiniest bird in the world, the Bee Hummingbird, was included in CBC results.
        The CBC revealed the dramatic impact climate change is already having on birds, and a disturbing decline in common birds, including the Northern Bobwhite quail. The many decades of data, not only helps identify birds in need of conservation action, it also reveals success stories. The CBC helped document the comeback of the Bald Eagle and significant increases in waterfowl populations, both the result of conservation efforts.
        Note to Potential First-timers: Christmas Bird Counts are open to birders of all skill levels. While there is a specific methodology to the CBC and you need to count birds within an existing Christmas Bird Count circle, everyone can participate!  If you are a beginning birder, on most counts you will be able to join a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher.  Feeder watchers and backyard watchers are needed too.

What to bring?
      Participants should bring lunch, drinking water, warm clothing and footwear.  Binoculars, field guides and spotting scopes are suggested, for those who have them.  The five-dollar fee has been dropped to encourage more participation and the annual published report, (American Birds) previously available in paper will be made digital.

For more information on each count:

       Below we list the actual counts in Western SD and Black Hills of Wyoming.  We give you some more details on some counts and the compilers name and contact into.  Please contact him/her for more information about the count.
       We have also included a list of counts in eastern SD and NE Wyoming. We include a few of the counts in North Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska, which are near SD.


Nationwide NAS Press Releases:

Nationwide CBC Data (all states)

South Dakota:



114th CBC Season, December 14th, 2013 - January 5th, 2014


BISON, SD, -- Date - To Be Determined (TBD)
 Contact, Pat or Meghan Dinkins, 605-244-5632,

HOT SPRINGS, SD - Saturday, 14th of December 2013
Meet at the Hot Springs Bakery at 7:30 am, Count off at Hot Springs Pizza Hut 5:00 pm
Duane Weber - (605) 673-2032,

STURGIS, SD - - Saturday, 14th of December 2013
Severe weather alternate is - Dec 19th,   Birders meet at McDonalds in Sturgis, at 7:30 AM. A compilation potluck is at the home of Vic/Donna Fondy, 12067 Crook City Rd, Whitewood, SD after count. Vic Fondy - (605) 269-2553,

PIERRE, SD  - Saturday, 14th of December 2013
CBC organizational meeting is Thurs. the 12th at 7:30 PM in the Science Room at First United Methodist Church. Sat eve meet at Perkins restaurant, Fort Pierre after 5:00 PM to turn in results, Doug Backlund, (605) 280-6642,,

RAPID CITY, SD  - Sunday, 15th of December,  2013
Count off meet is at QDoba's Mexican in Baken Park at 5 pm,  Michael Melius - (605) 255-4766,

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, SD  - Sunday, 15th of December 2013,
Meet at Park Visitor Center 8 am, ending time is app. 4:15 pm for Pot Luck Supper and sharing of the day's findings. Dan Roddy - (605) 745-1157 or Barbara Muenchau (745-1150),,

PIEDMONT, SD - Tuesday, 17th of December 2013, Addison Ball - compiler
 (The severe weather alternate date is 12/20)

SHADEHILL, SD - Tuesday, the 17th of December 2013
Meet at store in Shadehill along SD 73 (i.e. the Summerville Store) at 7:30 am. Dan Svingen, 701-214-8286,

SUNDANCE, WY - Saturday, 21st of December 2013
We will meet at the Rapid Stop Conoco Service Station, 7:30 AM at the West end of Sundance. Contact Jennifer Adams at 307-283-2467,

PINE RIDGE RESERVATION, SD, -- Sunday, 22nd of December 2013
Severe weather alternate: January 5, Meet briefly prior to count at 7 am at Big Bat's gas station (Shell) in downtown Pine Ridge Contact: Peter Hill, (605) 595-3715,,
Saturday night overnight hosting may be available..

BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK, SD - Friday, 27th of December 2013
Meet at Park Headquarters at 7:45 am, for route assignments, Nancy Drilling, 605-791-0459 or, office: 605.433.5263, 605.391.3680 (cell)

SPEARFISH, SD - Sunday, 5th of January 2014.
Meet at McDonalds at 7:30 AM for field assignments, Daniel Bjerke,


Christmas bird counts are also planned in East River SD. These locations will have counts:

Sioux Falls, (Dec. 14th, 2013), Contact Todd Jensen,,

Aberdeen (Dec. 14th, 2013), Gary Olson ,, (605) 225-5241 or (605) 715-5242

Brookings, (Dec. 14th, 2013), Contact Nelda Holden, (605) 692-8278,

Yankton, (Dec. 15th, 2013), Contact Roger Dietrich, (605) 665-7240, (605) 660-6247,

Waubay N.W.R., (Dec. 17th , 2013 ) - Contact Laura Hubers (605) 947-4521 Ext. 116,

Sand Lake N.W.R., (Dec 18th, 2013), Contact Bill Schultze (605) 885-6320 Ext. 23,

Madison,  (Dec. 19th, 2013), Contact Jeffrey S. Palmer (605) 256-5190,

Huron, (Dec. 20th, 2013), Contact Brent Jamison, (605) 352-5894 Ext. 114.

Lake Andes, (Dec. 20th,  2013) - Contact Mick Hanan, (605) 487-7603 Ext. 107,

Mitchell, (Dec. 27th,2013) - Contact Jeff Hansen,

Canton, (Dec. 28th, 2013), Contact Todd Jensen,,


Christmas bird counts that are near enough that SD folks may be interested in:


Christmas bird counts are also planned NE Wyoming.  These locations will have counts:

Kane, WY, (Dec. 14th, 2013), Contact Jennifer Miller at 307-568-9346

Sheridan, WY, (Dec. 14th, 2013), Contact Julie  Rieder, 307-655-9024, 

Casper, WY, (Dec. 14th, 2013), Contact Chris Michelson, 307-234-8726,, or Stacey Scott (262-0055)

Buffalo, WY, (Dec. 15th, 2013), Contact  Deane Bjerke,

Gillette, WY, (Dec. 22nd, 2013), Contact Dustin Downey, 504-453-4124,,

Sundance, WY, (Dec. 21st, 2013), Contact Jen or Jean at 307-283-2467,

Story-Bighorn, WY, (Dec. 28th, 2013) Contact Jean Daly at 307-674-9728,

Guernsey/Ft. Laramie, WY, (Dec. 28th, 2013) Contact Jane Dorn, 307-640-4002.


Scottsbluff, NE,  (Dec. 14th, 2013), Alice Kenitz, 308-436-2959,

Ponca State Park,  (Dec. 14th, 2013),  NE, Bill Huser (402) 494-1657,
Crawford, NE, (Dec. 21st, 2013)   Bruce or Donna Walgren, 307-234-7455,

Lake McConaughy, NE , (Dec. 28th, 2013),  Stephen J. Dinsmore, 515-294-1348,

Sioux City, IA, Jerry Probst,  (Dec. 21st, 2013) (712) 258-1296,

Theodore Roosevelt N.P. (South Unit) Medora, ND, (Dec. 21st, 2013), Valerie Naylor,  701-623-4730 ext 3409,,

Theodore Roosevelt N.P., ND,  (North unit),  (Date -To Be Determined), Valerie Naylor,  701-623-4730 ext 3409,

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

SD Mountain Lion Season Hearing Oct 3rd, Spearfish

Please comment on the
SDGFP proposed cougar hunting season for 2013-2014

Folks can send written comments in before or go to the hearing at
Spearfish's Holiday Inn Express (exit 14 off I-90)
on Thursday, Oct 3rd, 2013  at 2 pm


A report from the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) is on the Agenda for 1 pm.  Their report will also be posted on a state web page at about 1 pm.  The WMI is a private consultant, hired to do an independent review and report on SD's big game management. Their e-mail address:  Here is a link to their contract:
We have no idea what they will say, but it is possible that their report has findings not consistent with SD GFP staff recommendations or theories about cougars for the past eight years and that this report could be an agent for change to SD's cougar management, with either positive or negative impact for cougars.


We always hope that wildlife advocates will show up and testify. We are never sure if our testimony will result in immediate change to the pending cougar season, but the WMI report is a "wild card" for 2013 hearing. If friends of cougars show up  - we continue to present pro-cougar arguments, establish cougar advocates as a permanent voice, will effect press coverage, will reach some of the Commissioners, will meet new advocates/friends, may prevent worse direction, and may effect long term change.

Public testimony will begin at 2 pm.


You may send in written comments  (with your city/state address included)
 to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission, 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501; or email or Chuck Schlueter <>

The "de-facto" deadline for commenting is before noon (Central Time) on Wednesday, October 2nd. At this time the GFP staff posts all comments received by them, to their web site for review by public and Commissioners.

The "legal" deadline for written comment (as set by SD statute) is the close of the hearing, which will be after 2 pm on Thursday Oct 3rd.  These hearings generally last at least an hour.  Any other deadlines mentioned by GFP in notices are "suggested" deadlines, not the legal deadline.  Statute requires them to fully consider written comments received, however comments received by e-mail or postal mail, in the last 24 hours, might not be seen by the Commission before they make their decision, but will be in the legal record. To improve chances that
comments received in last hours, are read before the decision, - you may also wish to send directly to each Commissioner's e-mail. These e-mail addresses are provided at


To view the full proposals on those seasons, visit and look under the "rule proposals" heading.


The proposal 's quota is a reduced from last year's quota of 100 either sex (or 70 females), to 75 either sex (or 50 females).  In Custer State Park they wish to increase the number of hunting intervals when hunters can use dogs and decrease the number of hunting intervals without dogs. In the prairie unit (outside Black Hills Fire Protection District) the hunt remains unlimited and year round.

 SDGFP 1 hour-long report to Commission on cougars for 2013-2014:
GFP's estimate for 2014 is 230 lions all ages, which is comprised of 160 adults & sub-adults and 72 kittens. A recreational kill of 75 SD lions is 32% of the SD lions all ages and 46% kill of adult and sub-adult SD lions in Black Hills.  Wyoming (which we estimate by eye-balling maps showing trees -- has about two fifths of the Black Hills/Bearlodge habitat) will allow, for the next 3 years, a recreational kill of 61 lions each year in the majority of its Black Hills/Bear Lodge area, with an unlimited take in habitat areas on the edges of Black Hills, such as Elk Mountain.  Wyoming allows hound hunting and there will be territorial and home range overlap of lions across SD and Wyoming state boundaries, so some SD lions will be exposed to hound hunting when they are in Wyoming.

Various people criticize the SDGFP population estimates for many reasons, often claiming they are too high or just not reliable.  However assuming estimates are correct, with this allowable hunter kill, in both Wyoming and SD, both states individually & jointly are managing their lion population(s) as a "sink".


We suggest that people watch a You-tube video on Washington State cougar research. In 1995 Washington State voters passed an initiative banning hound hunting of lions (effective as of 1996).  The State responded with increasing levels of hunting allowed via the boot hunt. Eventually recreational hound hunting of cougars was allowed in very small areas with small quota to address "problem lions" and a pilot project area was allowed to have hound hunting for 4 years, in a quarter of Washington State area.

Washington State researchers did extensive research and proved that in Washington State's aggressive recreational hunting of cougars did not bring about the expected/anticipated results due to the increase in younger male lions in the lion population. After all this research, Washington State believes in an "equilibrium hunt"; a 14% recreational kill of adult/sub-adult is the appropriate hunting strategy.  As a result the State of Washington has created 49 cougar hunting units, and if the recreational kill in any unit exceeds 16% of either the adult females, sub-adult females, adult males or sub-adult males, the hunt in that unit is closed.
To watch the video about Washington state research:


We realize that our mailing lists have many people of many values.  Each person should testify or write, what they personally believe and in a way consistent with their values. Comments can be simple expression of feelings or wishes.  However if folks want some sound bytes, we suggest that people write or testify before the Commission to some or all of the following:

1. Manage the SD lion population either as a "stable "or "source" population.
To manage as "stable" (assuming GFP cougar population estimate is correct) a 14% take, would be a "harvest threshold" of 22 adult and sub adult lions.  If you wish it managed as a source, the recreational kill harvest threshold" would need to be even lower - lower than 22 either sex.

2.  Allow no recreational hunting of lions on the Prairie.  Especially allow no recreational hunting in SD's Pine Ridge area north of Nebraska's Pine Ridge Unit.

3. Assure that any decision allowing hunting of lions in SD's jurisdiction within the checkerboard areas of tribal & non-tribal land is predicated with documented consultation with tribe(s).

4. Extend the boundary of habitat managed for mountain lions north and east of the Black Hills Fire Protection district to include the Cheyenne and Belle Fourche Rivers, with the endpoint at their confluence.

5.  Divide the Black Hills (and the proposed northeastern extension) into smaller lion hunt units, which could have different harvest thresholds and seasons. Create a unit along the Wyoming Border where no hunting is allowed, to compensate for Wyoming's over-harvest

6. Revoke or reduce hound hunting in Custer State Park due to the "fair chase" issue and concern for animal welfare (both lions and dogs).

7. Increase the cost of lion hunting license to $100 per each license.

8. Object to the justification of killing of lions in order to maximize the number of common and/or non-native herbivore prey animals hunters can shoot.

9. Suggest the term "quota" be exchanged for "harvest threshold".


No rule is final till a legislative committee - the Interim Rules Review Committee (IRRC) - passes it forward. This year's rule making, will go to the Committee in mid November (11/12/13). Last year the IRRC rejected and turned back the SDGFP's plan for the Rocky Mt Sheep season, so the IRRC has recently rejected a season. Cougar advocates may contest the season before the IRRC, and people may send in comments to the IRRC. We will provide details on that later.

Also visit:

Cougar Fund

Mountain Lion Foundation

Cougar Rewilding Foundation

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Breakfast Buffet on Black-Backed Woodpecker, Saturday Morn, Sept 28th, Hill City

Saturday Morning, September 28th, Breakfast Buffet, 
8:15 am "meet & greet" & 8:30 am buffet starts, 
Slate Creek Grille, Hill City

Prairie Hills Audubon Society is sponsoring a breakfast buffet with Chad 
Hanson of John Muir Project (JMP) from California, Duane Short of 
Biodiversity Conservation Alliance  (BCA) from Wyoming and Marshall Johnson of the National Audubon Society (NAS) from North Dakota.

Breakfast buffet starts at 8:30 am at the Slate Creek Grille 
in Hill City, SD. The Grille is located near Post office in northern 
part of town. During breakfast our visitors will be available to 
discuss the black-backed woodpecker with attendees. 

   In May 2012 four groups, (including John Muir Project and Biodiversity Conservation Alliance) petitioned the 
US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to list the Black Hills and the 
Oregon-Cascades/California populations of the Black-backed Woodpecker 
as a Threatened or Endangered species under the Endangered Species 
Act.  Petitioners contend the small, isolated 
Oregon-Cascades/California and Black Hills populations have been
recognized in the scientific literature as genetically distinct from 
the large, contiguous, northern boreal population and in both cases 
this genetic distinction is sufficiently large that it is consistent 
with distinction at the level of subspecies; however if not yet 
assigned subspecies status, the Woodpecker could qualify as a 
Distinct Population Segment. Due to the small size of the two 
populations and the threats, petitioners believe listing is 
warranted. To download petition and other related materials visit the USFWS web pages on this topic:

We shall have meet and greet at 8:15 am and breakfast buffet will 
start at 8:30 am. Chad and Duane will need to leave by 11:15 am.  Parking in Grille's lot is limited and our visitors could 
help the Grille by trying to park nearby or car pooling.

Attendees must pay for cost of breakfast buffet that will be fixed by Grille.  
Please RSVP by Thursday night, 
if you plan to come,
contact Nancy at 605-787-6779 or  e-mail

Please put WOODPECKER RSVP in the subject line if using e-mail.

Who is Chad?
Dr. Chad Hanson is the Director of the John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute in California.  Chad Hanson has a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California at Davis, and is an Associate researcher at UC Davis in the field of fire ecology in conifer forest ecosystems.  He has published studies on topics such as fire severity patterns, wildlife response to fire, post-fire conifer survival, and landscape-level fire patterns and trends.  Dr. Hanson is also a Juris doctorate. Watch Chad on U-tube

Who is Duane?      
Duane Short is staff of Biodiversity Conservation Alliance of Laramie Wyoming. 
Duane is a zoologist with particular interests in animal behavior and evolutionary biology.

Who is Marshall Johnson?
Marshall is staff of National Audubon's Dakota office located in Fargo ,ND, and is the field staff responsible for SD within the National Audubon's system. - , 

Other references

The Petition to list the Black-backed Woodpecker can be downloaded at:

    For More Information on the petition:

       Other writing of Chad on Black backed Woodpecker
  One of Mark Rumble's  (Local Forest Service researcher) research papers on the Woodpecker can be downloaded here.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Meeting on Missouri River Conservation Efforts

Tuesday, Sept 17th,
Prairie Hills Audubon Society Meeting
Rapid City School Administration Building,
300 6th Street, Rapid City
Community room, (use SE entrance),
6:15 pm

Meeting on - Draft EIS & Land Protection Plan for Niobrara Confluence & Ponca Bluffs Conservation Areas of NE and SD.
      An effort is being made to protect habitat along the Missouri River at the Nebraska/SD border and is undertaken by National Park Service (NPS) and US Fish and Wildlife Service.  Speaker is Steve Thede, Acting Superintendent, Missouri National Recreational River, NPS and he will attend by Skype.  This federal effort will help protect piping plovers & interior least terns.
     Meet and greet at 6:15 with snacks, lecture at 6:30 pm.

   Sept 30th, 2013 is the comment deadline (as extended) for Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Land Protection Plan Niobrara Confluence and Ponca Bluffs Conservation Areas Nebraska and South Dakota
       This is a land protection plan for proposed conservation areas along the relatively wild section of the Missouri River between SD and Nebraska (in the SE edge of SD). This DEIS is related to protection of threatened and endangered bird species habitat along the River. The riparian woodlands and island complexes are important for approximately 25 year-round bird species and 115 species of migratory birds, including piping plovers, least terns, and bald eagles.
         There are 4 conservation alternatives, No Action, Minimal, Moderate and High Conservation Action.

Web links to download

Links on time extension:

Comment or a request copies (hard copies or a CD-ROM) or more info. by any of the following methods:
Agency Web site:
        Mail: Nick Kaczor, USFWS, Division of Refuge Planning, P.O. Box 25486, DFC, Denver, CO 80225.    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call (605) 665-0209, Missouri River National Recreational River Headquarters, 508 East 2nd Street, Yankton, SD 57078.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sept 11th comment deadline, SD BLM RMP Revision

The public comment period ends Sept 11th, if e-mailing send your comments before midnight.

   The draft document can be viewed on the internet at and describes different alternatives for managing public lands within the South Dakota Field Office. 
        The public may submit written comments related to the South Dakota DRMP/EIS by any of the following methods:

 Fax:    (605)892-7015_, 
 Mail or hand-delivery:  "South Dakota RMP Comments," 
315 Roundup Street,
 Belle Fourche, SD 57717

For more information, contact Planning Specialist Mitch Iverson at (605) 892-7000.    - 

Mitch Iverson
Planner/Environmental Coordinator
310 Round Up St. Belle Fourche, SD
605-892-7008 (office)
605-580-5707 (cell)
Iverson, Mitchell <>, 

Rebecca Smith, is the Wildlife Biologist for SD BLM 
For the latest BLM news and updates, visit us on the web at:  and on Facebook at: <>