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Audubon News

Newsletter of Prairie Hills Audubon Society of Western South Dakota Inc.

May 2020

tinues, the live sawtimber volume will be depleted in the

Prairie Hills Aududon’s Zoom meeting next several decades. To meet the current annual rate of
on Black Hills National Forest's cutting allowed by the Forest Plan, they need twice the
standing live timber they have. The rate of cutting must be
not sustainable cutting of trees reduced to provide for a sustainable supply of timber,
Friday, May 29th, 6:30 pm MT wildlife habitat, and other forest resources. Various laws re-
quire a sustainable logging program. Here is a direct link to
. Our speaker is Jonathan Word, Natural Resource Staff Of- a “Timber Growth and Yield in the Black Hills :National
ficer at the BHNF who will talk about the timber program Forest: A Changing Forest”(TGYDGTR)
& a recent draft report that discusses the sustainability of
the BHNF timber program -- the “Timber Growth and
Yield in the Black Hills National Forest: A Changing For- These cutting actions are illegal, violating the Multiple
est” (TGYDGTR) Use Sustained Yield Act and the National Forest Manage-
ment Act. In the future the Forest Service will need to
Join Zoom Meeting from your web browser for audio and change it's cutting rate. The six future timber cutting sce-
video participation: narios explored in the TGYDGTR do not reduce the cut fast enough or deep enough; they take years to reach timber
FMT0xsdWtrOGFRbXoycHFuQT09 sustainability and do not provide for sustainability of other
values nor forbid logging on some lands that are unsuitable
Meeting ID: 834 8157 4499 for logging nor do they forbid commercial cutting of young
Password: 099720 trees before they finish their fastest growing period.
A not sustainable cut is not desirable, as viability of
One tap mobile some wildlife species will be at risk and values such as
+13462487799,,83481574499#,,1#,099720# (Houston) some habitats, scenic quality, back country recreational &
+16699006833,,83481574499#,,1#,099720# (San Jose) water quality will be harmed. The Forest has less than .5%
old growth left, the Forest Plan says it was supposed to pro-
By phone - If you only want to call in (audio only). vide at least 5%. Some species at risk include the northern
Any of these numbers should work from SD: goshawk, brown creeper and black backed woodpecker
+1 346 248 7799 (Houston), +1 669 900 6833 (San that need mature dense stands, and the pygmy nuthatch that
Jose), +1 253 215 8782 (Tacoma) , +1 312 626 6799 US needs large old yellow barks. The Forest does not have
(Chicago), +1 929 205 6099 US (New York), money, or ways to generate revenue to pay for all the
+1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown) needed pre-commercial thinning of the huge area of under-
story baby pine trees.
Meeting ID: 834 8157 4499 The timber industry is very opposed to the necessary re-
Password: 099720 duction in annual timber volume. They are busy lobbying
Find your local number link shows all 6 numbers: our elected leaders. Other forests have also had draft re- ports that found the forests had not-sustainable harvests.
Several such draft reports were buried due to politics and
All the web links in this newsletter can be found on home never made it past draft form.
page of our web site, as well as additional information. We need the public to fully understand what has been discovered by the Forest Service, to listen to critiques of
the analysis and to insist that politics does not bury this re-
The Black Hills National Forest (BHNF) has released data port and that the Forest Service commits to quickly reduc-
from a Forest Inventory & Analysis that shows the BHNF ing the annual harvest on the Black Hills to a level that is
is cutting trees faster than then forest growth replaces them. not just sustainable for commercial goals (i.e.: timber pro-
A draft report projects that if the current rate of cutting con- duction) but also sustainable for wildlife habitat, scenery
Page 1
protection, back country recreation, water quality, soils etc. River Otter Trapping - Discussion of Issues
The natural amenities of the BHNF, need to be valued & July 12th-16th Deadline
protected, not just it's timber production valued.
SD river otters had been listed as threatened under the
A comprehensive article about the Black Hills
SD Endangered Species Act since 1977. They may have
timber situation was recently published:
once been extirpated from the state and 35 otter were rein-
troduced by Flandreau Sioux Tribe to the Big Sioux River
in 1998 & 1999. We objected on May 7th, 2020 to
SDGFP’s plan to remove otters from SD's threatened
species list but we lost, as the Commission decided to delist
Here is a link to the Forest Service's (FS) web page on this
them. On May 7th the SD GFP Commission passed a rule
to remove the otter from SD's threatened species list and
initiated the rule making process for a statewide otter
trapping season, with the season's "finalization" hear-
ing to be on July 16th (with 15 otter “harvest” limit, 1
This FS web page has a discussion of the issues & lots
otter per person and 2 month duration that overlaps 2 of the
of links to more data on this issue, including the “Timber
state's three beaver trapping seasons, but is shorter than
Growth and Yield in the Black Hills National Forest: A
them). We will object to the season proposal.
Changing Forest” (TGYDGTR) and links to webinars from
We will request their reintroduction west river, at the
4 FS meetings with stakeholders & local government, some
very least to La Creek National Wildlife Refuge and/or the
of which include power-points created by the FS & stake-
Little White River. We will request no season west river
holder groups on the issues. A link to the April 3rd meet-
and reductions and limitations to any trapping season on
ing's presentations & related documents (mostly saved as
the eastern side of SD. We may also request modifications
PDFs) is:
to the beaver trapping seasons, as incidental take of otters
from beaver trapping is the leading known cause of otter
We recommend that you view power points from Bob
Burns of the Norbeck Society, Jim Margadant of Sierra
GFP acknowledges they are now found in the Big
Club and Dave Mertz of retired foresters.
Sioux, Vermillion, James, Jorgenson, Little Minnesota,
Whetstone, Yellow Bank, Kim Cree/Big Slough river
Forest Service Advisory Board Positions
drainages and the Missouri River downstream from Pierre.
Deadline - Cusp of May/June
SD GFP identified a recovery area in far eastern SD. Otters
Black Hills National Forest is accepting applications for
have been found existing in 40% of the sub-basins in the
folks who want to sit on the Forest Service Advisory Board.
recovery area & breeding in basins that make up 60% of re-
The deadline has been extended till the end of May. Appli-
covery area. Both criteria were met for 2 of 5 years prior to
cations need to be submitted to Scott Jacobson p: 605-673-
delisting proposal. The highest number of verified otters
9216 c: 605-440-1409, at the
sightings in SD in any recent year was 42 otters in 2016.
Supervisor's Office in Custer. On our web site we have a
Verified sightings for the last 6 years are: 2014 - 33 otters,
link to application and more details.
2015 - 23 otters, 2016 - 42 otters, 2017- 33 otters, 2018 - 38
otters, 2019 - 40 otters. However more otters will exist
SD River Otter, than folks are seeing/finding, reporting and that GFP can
SD Game, Fish & Parks releases a draft revi- verify. Half the reports are from Grant, Moody and Roberts
sion of the SD Otter Management Plan - Counties. Study of the dead otters found, shows they sub-
June 19, 2020 Comment Deadline stantially died at 2 years or younger.
SDGFP has released and made available for public Possible west river reintroduction sites are identified
comment the draft revision of the SD Otter Management by GFP as the Little White River, the Cheyenne and Belle
Plan. A draft of the revised river otter management plan Fourche Rivers. La Creek National Wildlife Refuge and the
can be found online at Little White River have suitable habitat and have had a
plans/ under “Plans Up for Revision.” very small but sort of successful reintroduction.Two otter
Written comments on the plan can be sent to 523 E. Capitol were reintroduced to La Creek National Wildlife Refuge in
Ave., Pierre, S.D. 57501, or e-mailed to 2013. The female died of heart problems but had given Comments must be received by birth to a pup before hand. Fate of the male and pup is un-
June 19, 2020 and include your full name and city of resi- certain, but there were verified sightings (including photos)
dence. Contact Nancy Hilding for more info. and we post a of single otters up to 2018 and also a not verified otter
better alert on this on the web site’s home page and we will sighting in 2019. If there is just one otter or two of the same
have future Zoom strategy meetings about the otter. sex, they can't breed. A otter was killed in a fish trap on the
White River within the last 5 years. 24 other unverified 4th and 5th meeting and/or July 12th for inclusion in
sightings exist west River between 1991 and 2018. public comments for the July 16th/17th meeting. Post
Otters are associated with beaver, who help create comments on line at:
suitable habitat for them in a drainage system. Most otter tions/
are currently killed in SD, as incidental take during beaver Next opportunity to verbally comment by teleconference
trapping. The second leading cause of death is being run will be on June 4th and after that July 16th,
over by vehicles. Of 117 reported river otters killed in Teleconferencing details will be on this web site
South Dakota from 1979 through 2016, 73% were killed in- (
cidental to legal trapping activities; 15% of the 117 re- You can livestream meetings at:
ported river otter mortalities resulted from being struck by You can testify for 3 minutes on any subject during the
vehicles. SD otter eat fish, frogs and crayfish and live in "open forum" and for 3 minutes during the rule making
aquatic systems: streams, ponds, marshes but they travel hearing on each rule up for review (that is when you testify
cross country from one surface water to the other. They on the proposed otter season on July 16th, or other rules up
need vegetation along the banks for habitat. for finalization on that date).
Surface water systems located east river can see Link to see the Commissioner's contact info
change to their edges & size as water levels rise and fall
due to variance in rain fall or due to drainage tiling. We Below are the e-mails of Commissioners, you can e-mail
face era of climate change & uncertain weather. There are them directly at any time, but your e-mail will not go into
existing threats to otter, especially from climate change, the official records of GFP. You can do both, submit com-
water pollution (especially from agriculture and specifically ments on-line and mail/e-mail or call directly at home. If
drainage tiling) and wetlands drainage. you call them at home, please be polite.
In the west river prairie of SD beavers are hunted 365
days. The Black Hills beaver season is 3 months and east,,
river is 6 months. The long west River season is alleged to,,
be at the request of land owners who don't want to apply,,
for special permits, if beaver dams/digging are damaging,
roads or stock dams. We need to insist on a reduction in the
level of beaver trapping west river, to reduce the human OTTER REFERENCES
predation on any otters reintroduced.
Trout are a non-native introduced species, the Black We had a Zoom meeting Wednesday, 4/29/20 by Zoom,
Hills native fishes were too small for fishing and our Black Topic: South Dakota's River Otters
Hills streams are stocked full of exotics. Trout are difficult Time: Apr 29, 2020, 6:30 PM Mountain Time
for otters to catch (trout swim too fast). We should request Speaker: Silka Kempema of SD Game, Fish and Parks
that GFP explore managing some stream(s) in Black Hills (GFP) Wildlife Diversity Program.
for fish species that otters can catch, so we can re-establish Link to recording of the meeting (already happened)
them in at least one drainage in the Hills.
Please note most otters are killed currently are killed 6u2WhJYrfc5UPEfasvMtjbX6a8gCBKrqFczk8oRnoP-
via incidental takes during trapping. Such death can involve BZv5F7PbJmyTrwuE
drowning under water while restrained. We can also work Password: 5K%KE1B&
to protect beavers. Percentages of otter death by type of
trapping are: 53.7 % for beaver trapping, 32.4 % for un- Nancy was a little late starting the recording and missed
known trapping, 8.8 % for raccoon trapping, 2.3 % for fish the first three slides, which included the title slide, a slide
trapping , 1.4% for mink trapping and other 1.4% titled Mustelid - which had 4 characteristics listed (carni-
We need to insist on reintroduction to La Creek Na- vore, long body, short legs, scent glands) and a slide titled
tional Wildlife Refuge or to the Little White River before Biology, which had 3 points.- (adapted to life in water, indi-
any West River trapping is allowed. Reintroduction could cator of water quality, associated with beaver.)
be by either GFP, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) --
and/or Rosebud Sioux Tribe (RST). Reintroduction on the All links in this newsletter can be found on the PHAS web
Cheyenne River could also be by two other tribes. site on the home page, as will more information on the
newsletter’s topics and more links to other references.
HOW TO COMMENT PHAS may have Zoom meetings to discuss strategy .
You can comment on any proposed rule change (or any- on how to get GFP to change the proposed otter season and
thing else) in writing by Sunday at midnight CT how to create an West River reintroduction effort. We may
of May 29th for inclusion in public comments for June have discussion meetings on Timber issue. Page 3
Prairie Hills Audubon Society (PHAS) is a Chapter of the National Audubon Society; our territory is much of West River SD.
Nancy Hilding - President,, 605-787-466 or 6779, Jim Petersen -Vice-president,,,
Helen McGinnis - Treasurer,, Doris Respects Nothing - Secretary,, MaryJo Farring
ton - Board member, 605-716-2151, PHAS web site : - We have a Facebook page: Our e-mail address is
Prairie Hills Audubon Society eetin 29th, t
M rves
oo m ay Ha
P.O. Box 788 SZ ve, M ree
Black Hawk, SD 57718 PHA riday e inable T PAID
F a
U n sust PERMIT #618

J.J. Audubon - Black Backed Woodpecker

PHAS is run by volunteers. To reduce mailing expenses & use of volunteer time, PHAS is trying to send as many announcements by e-mail as
possible. Please help us keep you informed by giving us your phone number and e-mail address. We are recruiting new Board members, contact

May 15th-June 15th - Climate Watch

any current board member if interested.
page for details.
PHAS’s meetings during Pandemic
Climate Watch takes place during two distinct sea- We try to have our monthly night meetings at the very end
sons—winter (January 15-February 15) and summer of the month - they have been: Feb 28th (Nest Predatory
Bounty Program), March 31st (Fight to Save the Greater
(May 15-June 15)
This is chance to bird to help bird science. Volun- Sage Grouse) April 29th (SD River Otters), & soon Fri-
teers count and document how ranges of bluebirds, day, May 29th (Black Hills National Forest's
nuthatches, goldfinches, towhees, or Painted Bunting not sustainable cutting of trees - details inside)
are shifting. Prairie Hills Audubon Society (PHAS) meetings are oc-
NAS is trying to understand climate changes ef- curring by Zoom since March. We also used to have
restaurant lunch meetings, but now have Zoom meetings to
fects to birds better. Volunteer(s) select a 10 square
discuss conservation policy & strategy but those are not al-
kilometer area. They need to bird for 5 minutes at one
ways announced on web but by e-mail to interested parties.
or more of 12 points and collect data on all birds The last one was lunch Tuesday May 26th on the SD river
seen/heard in the small circle (seen within 100 meter otter. The Zoom meetings are recorded to the cloud & can
radius). You submit the data via e-bird be watched after the fact. The links to recordings of past & e-mail the link to the NAS. meetings are on our website’s home page, but old meet-
Volunteers sign up for a square to bird in. ing’s cloud postings won’t last forever as cloud storage
Go to National Audubon’s (NAS) web site or Prairie costs money & we can have 3 up at a time, so if you
Hills Audubon Societies’ (PHAS) web site’s home missed them, please watch the March before late June. 4

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