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South Dakota Landowners Sought for New Hunting Access Program in 2008

From South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department

-- The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department is seeking landowners who are interested in joining a new big game hunting access program in 2008 -- the Controlled Hunter Access Program.

CHAP is a cooperative effort between private landowners, hunters and Game, Fish and Parks to open up more private land to public big game hunting. Landowners who enroll their land in CHAP will have more control over hunter activities on their land, including controlling the amount of hunter use at a given time, setting special provisions for uses and placing restrictions on big game species allowed to be harvested and game retrieval.  Payments to landowners will be based on actual hunter use, not on acres enrolled as is done in the Walk-In Area program.

"We have made significant strides in the Walk-In Area program over the past 20 years resulting in a Walk-In Area enrollment of over 1 million acres" said Bill Smith, senior wildlife biologist for Game, Fish and Parks. 

"We also know there are landowners interested in providing big game hunting access but want some method to control the number of hunters on their land at a given time. We created CHAP to fill that need."

To qualify for CHAP, landowners must be legally able, either through ownership or rental agreement that includes hunting privileges, to enroll the offered land in CHAP. The landowner will receive a payment of $6 per hunter day plus possible bonuses for each hunter day of use for enrolling in the program if they allow all species of wildlife to be hunted or have their land open to hunt the entire season of the allowed game. Landowners enrolling 1,000 acres or more will receive an additional flat bonus rate of $250.

Hunters who access land enrolled in CHAP are required to check in with the landowner or at a self-serve check-in box to obtain a permission slip. When all the permission slips are gone for a particular date, no additional hunters will be allowed.

"CHAP is not designed to replace our existing Walk-In Area program," Smith noted. "It is our hope to provide a variety of options for landowners to help them determine what best fits for their land management goals."

The CHAP enrollment period for the 2008 hunting season is open and runs until June 13. Landowners interested in information and possible enrollment in CHAP should contact their local conservation officer well before the June 13 deadline. CHAP locations for the 2008 hunting season will be printed in the 2008 Hunting Atlas.

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