The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission decided to issue fewer Black Hills elk licenses for the 2012 season on Wednesday but stopped short of a moratorium on all antlerless tags.
Commissioners finalized the Black Hills elk hunting season, setting the license levels at 395 any elk and 175 antlerless elk. That’s a drop from the 470 any elk licenses and 395 antlerless licenses issued in 2011.
The Game, Fish and Parks Department in its recommendations had requested 260 antlerless elk tags, but commissioner John Cooper asked his colleagues to further reduce that number by 85.
John Kanta, the department’s regional wildlife specialist, estimates about 4,000 elk are in the Black Hills, including Wind Cave National Park, and the goal is to boost that number to 5,500.