Table of Contents

  • Artificial Light: Overview of regulations and uses in hunting and fishing.
  • Recreational Artificial Light Law: Specific laws governing the use of artificial light in recreational activities.
  • Boating Restrictions: Rules and regulations for boating during hunting and fishing activities.
  • Civil Damages Liability: Legal implications and responsibilities in wildlife-related incidents.
  • Closed Areas: Understanding areas where hunting or fishing is restricted or prohibited.
  • Dog Training and Requirments: Regulations and guidelines for training dogs in hunting and fieldwork.
  • Electronic Calls: Legalities and restrictions on using electronic calling devices.
  • Falconry - General: Overview of falconry practice and regulations.
  • Falconry - Taking or Acquisition of Raptors: Specifics on legal aspects of capturing and keeping raptors for falconry.
  • Federal Lacey Act: Federal regulations on wildlife, fish, and plant trade.
  • General Restrictions: General limitations and laws applicable to hunting and fishing.
  • Gifting Wildlife and Fish: Rules surrounding the gifting or donation of wildlife and fish.
  • Harassment: Legal definition and implications of harassment in wildlife contexts.
  • Hunting Guides on Public Lands: Regulations for guides operating in public hunting lands.
  • Inspection: Protocols for inspection in hunting, fishing, and related activities.
  • Motor Vehicle Restrictions: Limitations on using motor vehicles in hunting and related activities.
  • Party Hunting Daily Limits: Regulations on group hunting and bag limits.
  • Protected Animals: List and status of animals protected from hunting and trapping.
  • Non-toxic Shot: Guidelines and requirements for using non-toxic ammunition.
  • National Parks, Monuments, Memorials: Rules specific to hunting and fishing in national parks and monuments.
  • Public Land and Park Restrictions: Overview of restrictions and permissions for public lands.
  • Railroad Rights-of-Way: Laws related to hunting and fishing near railroad properties.
  • Road-killed Big Game: Regulations concerning the collection and use of road-killed animals.
  • Sale/Use of Wildlife: Legalities surrounding the commercial sale and use of wildlife.
  • Trespass: Understanding the laws and penalties associated with trespassing while hunting or fishing.
  • Unarmed Retrieval: Rules regarding the retrieval of games without the use of weapons.
  • Walk-In Area/CREP Restrictions: Details on specific programs and restrictions for walk-in hunting areas.
  • Youth/Apprentice Accompaniment: Guidelines for the mentoring and involvement of youth and apprentices in hunting and fishing activities.

Artificial Light

Artificial light usage in hunting, particularly between sunset and sunrise, is governed by strict regulations to ensure safety and ethical hunting practices. Here's a detailed breakdown:


  • Artificial Light: This refers to any man-made light or lighting device that provides illumination visible to the unaided eye.
  • Night-Vision Equipment: These are electronic or battery-powered devices that enhance an individual's ability to see in low light conditions, significantly aiding in night-time activities.

General Prohibition

  • No Use with Weapons: It is illegal to use or possess night-vision equipment, or cast the rays of a spotlight, motor vehicle headlight, or any artificial light onto highways, fields, pastures, woodlands, forests, or prairies for spotting, locating, or attempting to hunt animals if carrying a firearm, bow, or any implement capable of killing an animal.

Exceptions & Specific Allowances:

  • Handheld Light for Raccoons and Trapping: Individuals are allowed to use a handheld light while on foot to hunt treed raccoons with dogs or to carry out trapping activities, including the collection of trapped fur-bearing animals.
  • Night Vision Equipment Use on Public and Private Land (January 1-August 31): Individuals may use night vision equipment (but not artificial light) for hunting jackrabbits, coyotes, beaver during its season, foxes, raccoons, opossums, badgers, skunks, and rodents under these conditions:
    • On public land with the use of shotguns and shotshells or a firearm with a bullet diameter of less than .225 inches.
    • On private land leased to the Department of Game, Fish, and Parks for public access or with the landowner's permission, using the same weapons specifications as public land.
  • Private Land and Night Vision with Artificial Light: On private lands, individuals may use both night vision equipment and artificial light to hunt the specified animals, provided they use a shotgun and shot shells or a firearm with a cartridge having a bullet diameter of less than .225 inches.

Recreational Artificial Light Law

The Recreational Artificial Light Law sets additional restrictions and permissions for the use of artificial light in spotting or locating wild animals for recreational purposes, particularly during specific times of the year. Here's a comprehensive outline of the law:

Time and Date Restrictions:

  • Restricted Period: From September 1 to January 31, inclusive, particularly between 10 p.m. and sunrise, there are additional limitations on using artificial light in outdoor recreational activities.


  • Spotlighting and Artificial Light: It is unlawful to cast the rays of a spotlight or any artificial light (excluding motor vehicle headlights) into fields, pastures, woodlands, forests, or prairies for spotting or locating any wild animal.

Exemptions for Landowners and Guests:

  • Landowners and Guests: A person who owns or occupies land may use night-vision equipment, a spotlight, or other forms of artificial light on their land. This exemption also extends to up to two guests of the landowner or occupant, allowing for limited use under controlled conditions.

Boating Restrictions

Boating restrictions in South Dakota vary by county and body of water. Below are the listed restrictions for counties where specific boating or boat motor restrictions may impact hunters and trappers. Individuals must ensure they are compliant with all applicable laws and regulations when using boats for hunting or trapping purposes.

County-Specific Restrictions:

  1. Aurora County: Wilmarth Lake is designated as a no-wake zone.
  2. Beadle County: Staum Dam, enforced as a no-wake zone.
  3. Bon Homme County: Lake Henry, is also a no-wake zone.
  4. Brown County:
    • Willow Dam Wildlife Management Area: No motorboats or motor vehicles allowed.
    • Putney Slough Game Production Area: No boating from Oct. 20 - Dec. 31 in specified sections.
  5. Clark County:
    • Reid Lake: No boating from Oct. 20 - Dec. 31.
    • Indian Springs and Antelope Lake: Restrictions on discharging firearms or fishing from a boat in certain areas during specified dates.
  6. Codington County:
    • McKilligan Lake: No boating during waterfowl seasons.
    • Horseshoe Lake: No motors during waterfowl seasons.
    • Blythe Slough: No boating from March 1 - Aug. 31 in specific sections.
  7. Custer County:
    • Sylvan and Legion lakes: Only electric motors allowed.
    • Center Lake: No wake zone.
  8. Day County: Blue Dog Lake has a no-wake zone in a specified area.
  9. Deuel County: Lake Oliver is designated as a no-wake zone.
  10. Fall River County: Cold Brook and Cottonwood reservoirs allow only electric motors.
  11. Hand County: Wall Lake restricts motors during waterfowl seasons.
  12. Hanson County: Hanson Lake imposes a no wake zone when lake elevation is 12” or greater over the spillway elevation.
  13. Hughes County: Hipple Lake, west of the buoy, permits only electric motors.
  14. Hutchinson County: Silver Lake prohibits boating during fall and spring waterfowl seasons; Dimock, Tripp, and Menno lakes are all no-wake zones.
  15. Lake County: Long Lake is a no-wake zone except during July and August; Sunset Harbor, including the entrance canal, is always a no-wake zone.
  16. Lincoln County: Lake Alvin and Lake Lakota are both designated as no wake zones.
  17. McCook County: Lehrman Game Production Area restricts boating during certain waterfowl seasons.
  18. Meade County: Bear Butte Lake is a no wake zone.
  19. Minnehaha County: Clear Lake restricts boating from Oct. 20 - Dec. 31.
  20. Moody County: Lake Campbell and Battle Creek have specific no-wake zones.
  21. Pennington County: Deerfield Reservoir is a no wake zone.
  22. Roberts County: Cottonwood Lake Waterfowl Refuge and Mud Lake have specific boating restrictions during waterfowl seasons.
  23. Turner County: Swan Lake and adjacent waters have motor and boating restrictions in designated areas.
  24. Yankton County: Marindahl Lake is a no wake zone; Lake Yankton allows electric motors only.

General Laws and Resources:

  • South Dakota Boating Handbook: For detailed regulations, available from regional wildlife offices, county treasurer offices, or online.
  • Online Resources: Visit for regulations and for a complete listing of public water safety zones by county.

Civil Damage Liability

In South Dakota, violations of big game regulations are taken seriously, carrying both criminal and civil repercussions. Here are the specifics of the civil damages assessed for illegal activities related to the big game:

Standard Civil Damages:

  • Game Birds: $100 per bird.
  • Turkeys: $200 each.
  • Non-trophy deer, Antelope, or Bobcat: $1,000 per animal.
  • Non-Trophy Elk, Mountain Lion, or Buffalo: $5,000 per animal.
  • Mountain Goat or Bighorn Sheep: $10,000 per animal.

Trophy Game Civil Damages:

  • Trophy Antelope or Deer: Civil damages range between $2,000 and $5,000 for each animal.
  • Trophy Elk: Civil damages range between $6,000 and $10,000 for each elk.

Enhanced Penalties:

  • Exceeding Legal Limits: If a person takes or has more than twice the lawful daily or possession limit of a regulated wild animal, they may be liable for twice the standard civil damages.
  • Loss of Preference Points: Individuals charged with the illegal taking of a trophy big game animal will lose all preference points for lottery license drawings.

Criminal Penalties:

  • Class 1 Misdemeanor: Violations of most big game regulations fall under this category, punishable by fines and/or imprisonment, with a mandatory loss of hunting privileges for one year.

Closed Areas

In South Dakota, certain areas are designated as closed to hunting to protect property, livestock, and public safety, or to preserve wildlife. Violating these closed area regulations carries serious consequences, including suspension of hunting privileges. Here are the specifics:

Restrictions on Hunting Without Permission:

  • Legally Vacated Section Lines: Hunting is prohibited without the permission of the landowner.
  • Near Livestock and Occupied Structures: Hunting on public waters inundating private land is prohibited within 660 feet of livestock, occupied dwellings, churches, or schoolhouses, unless with the landowner's permission.

Discharge of Firearms and Hunting Proximity Restrictions:

  • 660-Foot Rule: It's illegal to discharge firearms or hunt within 660 feet of an occupied dwelling, church, schoolhouse, or livestock without written permission from the property owner. This law is commonly violated when obstructions like trees obscure the view of prohibited areas. A violation, especially when the area is posted, can lead to a one-year suspension of hunting privileges.

Specific Area Restrictions:

  • State Waterfowl and Game Bird Refuges: Hunting waterfowl is prohibited within state waterfowl refuges, and hunting all game birds (including waterfowl) is prohibited within state game bird refuges, except as allowed in season regulations.
  • Brown County Road 16: Hunting during waterfowl seasons is prohibited along Brown County Road 16 adjacent to the Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Federal Refuges and Protected Areas: Hunting within any federal refuge, National Park or monument is generally prohibited, except as specifically allowed in season regulations.

Dog Training

In South Dakota, dog training for hunting purposes is regulated to ensure the ethical treatment of wildlife and the safety of the public and the environment. Here are the guidelines for training dogs, particularly concerning wild game birds:

General Rule:

  • Training During Open Seasons: Individuals may only kill or capture wild game birds while training or running a dog during open hunting seasons.

Training with Pen-Raised Birds:

  • Allowed with Restrictions: Training dogs with pen-raised birds is permissible under certain conditions.

Restrictions on Training on Wild Game Birds:

  • Annual Prohibition Period: From April 15 to July 31, training dogs on wild game birds is prohibited statewide.
  • Limited Training Period: From August 1 through the Friday preceding the third Saturday in September, training on publicly owned lands or road rights-of-way is allowed with the following limitations:
    • No more than four dogs may be trained in any one day.
    • Shotgun or rifles are prohibited during training.
    • The dog(s) being trained must be owned by the person conducting the training and not offered for sale.
    • The owner of the dog may assist in training only if present.
    • No use of motor vehicles, horses, or any other conveyance is allowed, except as noted below.
    • Horse use for dog training on public lands is permissible until noon central time on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from the first Friday of August to the first Sunday of September, with the authorization of the managing government agency.

Additional Rules and Considerations:

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA): The use of dogs is encouraged for hunting, but they must be confined to a vehicle, boat, icehouse, or on a leash controlled by the handler for other recreational activities. Dog training and dogs roaming freely are prohibited on WPA.

Dog Requirements:

  • Health and Vaccination: Dogs entering South Dakota must have a certificate indicating vaccination against rabies from a local veterinarian. A health certificate is not required for dogs accompanying their owners for less than 30 days.

Contacts and Further Information:

  • For complete rules or clarifications, individuals may write to Game, Fish, and Parks Permits at the provided address.
  • Dog owners with specific questions concerning requirements may call the South Dakota Animal Industry Board.

Electronic Calls

Electronic calls are devices used by hunters to attract animals by mimicking their sounds. However, the use of these calls is strictly regulated in many jurisdictions, including South Dakota. Here are the specific regulations regarding the use of electronic calls:


  • Migratory Birds: The use of electronic calls is prohibited when hunting migratory birds, except crows and during the Spring Light Goose Conservation Order.
  • Big Game: Generally, electronic calls are prohibited when hunting big game. This includes all species classified under big game, with the notable exception of mountain lions.


  • Crows and Light Geese: Electronic calls are permitted when hunting crows and during the specific period known as the Spring Light Goose Conservation Order, which is designed to manage the population of light geese.

Falconry - General

Falconry is the sport of hunting wild animals in their natural state and habitat using a trained bird of prey. In South Dakota, as in many states, regulations are in place to ensure ethical practices in this ancient form of hunting.

Hunting Restrictions and Firearms:

  • Firearms Prohibition: Individuals hunting by falconry cannot possess a firearm or be accompanied by a person carrying a firearm, with the exception being those legally permitted to carry a concealed pistol.

Hunting Seasons:

  • Non-migratory Game Birds and Animals: Can be hunted from September 1 to March 31.
  • Migratory Game Birds: May only be hunted by state and federal migratory game bird season regulations. The season typically runs for 107 days, beginning no earlier than September 1 and ending by January 15.

Bag Limits:

  • Daily and Possession Limits: The daily bag limit for falconry is three, and the possession limit is six of the game species in aggregate. This means the total number of birds or animals taken in one day should not exceed three, and at any time, the falconer should not possess more than six.

Incidental Catches:

  • Protected Nongame Species: If a raptor incidentally takes a protected nongame bird or animal, it may not be retained or possessed. These must be immediately released or reported if deceased.

Falconry - Taking or Acquisition of Raptors

Acquiring raptors for falconry is a process governed by specific regulations to ensure the ethical treatment and conservation of these birds of prey. Here's what you need to know about taking or acquiring raptors in South Dakota:

Permit Requirement:

  • Raptor Collecting Permit: No person may take or attempt to take any raptor without a raptor collecting permit issued by the Game, Fish, and Parks (GFP) department. This includes being in immediate possession of the permit while engaging in activities related to taking or attempting to take raptors.

Permit Details:

  • Fee for Non-Residents: The fee for a nonresident raptor collecting permit is $200.

Trapping and Taking Raptors:

  • Passage Raptors: The trapping of passage raptors (immature raptors in their first-year plumage) is allowed from August 1 to March 31. Only these raptors in their specific age and plumage phase may be trapped during this period.
  • Eyas (Young Raptors): Only resident general or master falconry permittees may take eyas from a nest or aerie, ensuring at least one young bird remains. This is to protect the nest's viability and the population of the species. The window for taking eyes is from May 1 to July 31.

Conservation and Ethics:

  • Leaving One Eyas: When taking eyas, falconers must leave at least one in the nest or aerie to ensure the continuity of the raptor's breeding and survival in the wild.

Federal Lacey Act

The Federal Lacey Act is a significant piece of legislation that prohibits the interstate transport and shipment of any fish, wildlife, or plants that are taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law or regulation. Here's the key point concerning the Lacey Act as it relates to South Dakota:

  • Prohibition on Illegal Transport: No person may transport or ship to another state any fish and wildlife that have been unlawfully taken, possessed, or sold in South Dakota.

General Restrictions

In South Dakota, as in all states, there are general restrictions and guidelines that govern hunting practices. These rules are in place to ensure ethical hunting, safety for all, and conservation of wildlife. Here are some of the key general restrictions:

Ethical and Conservation Practices:

  • No Wanton Waste: It's illegal to wantonly waste game or destroy any birds or animals protected by the laws of South Dakota.
  • Prohibition on Destructive Devices: No one may use rifles and handguns, including .22 caliber rimfire firearms, to hunt upland game birds, though they may be used for other small game animals.

Safety Regulations:

  • Loaded Firearms and Intoxication: Possessing a loaded firearm while intoxicated is strictly prohibited.
  • Reckless Discharge: Recklessly discharging a firearm or bow and arrow is illegal.
  • Specific Area Restrictions: Firearms are prohibited in certain areas, such as the Fort Meade Recreation Area South Unit and signed portions of the North Unit.

Hunting Method Restrictions:

  • Legal Hunting Methods: The game must be taken by shooting with a legal weapon or by birds trained in falconry.
  • Firearm Type for Game Birds: Game birds must be hunted with a shotgun, not any other type of firearm, and fully automatic shotguns are prohibited.
  • Air Gun Regulations: Air guns are permitted for certain small games under specific conditions, including a factory rating of at least 1,000 feet per second muzzle velocity and the use of hunting pellets.

Respect for Property and Other Hunters:

  • Respect for Traps and Snares: It is illegal to steal, damage, or destroy someone else's trap, snare, or animal in a trap.
  • Drone Usage: Using a drone to aid in the taking of a game is prohibited.

Gifting Wildlife and Fish

In South Dakota, gifting game and fish is a practice regulated to ensure that the transfer of wildlife adheres to conservation laws and ethical standards. Here are the conditions under which game and fish may be gifted:

Conditions for Gifting:

  1. Lawful Taking: The game or fish must have been lawfully taken, caught, or killed.
  2. Compliance with Limits: The number of game or fish gifted must not place the recipient in violation of any season, daily, or possession limit for the species being gifted.
  3. Gifting to Unlicensed Individuals: If the recipient does not have a license, the gifting should occur at the domicile of the recipient.
  4. Wildlife Processing Facility: A wildlife processing facility may consider the game (except migratory birds) to be abandoned after an agreed period. Abandoned games, excluding migratory birds, may be distributed to non-profit or charitable organizations. However, the facility may not claim ownership of any abandoned game.
  5. Compliance with Federal Regulations: Gifting of waterfowl must adhere to federal regulations, which may have additional requirements or restrictions.


In South Dakota, laws are in place to protect the rights of individuals lawfully engaged in hunting or fishing activities from intentional interference. Here are the key points regarding harassment:

Prohibition of Interference:

  • Intentional Interference: It is illegal for any person to intentionally interfere with others who are lawfully engaged in the taking or attempting to take game or fish.
  • Prevention of Lawful Taking: Engaging in activities specifically intended to harass or prevent the lawful taking of game or fish is prohibited.
  • Disturbing Game: It is unlawful to scare or disturb a game with the specific intent to prevent its lawful taking.

Hunting Guides on Public Lands

South Dakota regulates the activities of hunting guides, particularly on public lands and other specific areas, to ensure safety, fair access, and conservation efforts. Here's a detailed look at the restrictions and definitions for hunting guides on public lands:

Restrictions on Hunting Guides:

  • Prohibited Areas: Hunting guides are not allowed to guide any hunting activity on:
    • State-owned or managed Game Production Areas.
    • State parks, recreation areas, and lakeside use areas.
    • Federal land leased or under an agreement to the Game, Fish, and Parks (GFP) department and posted as a Game Production Area and managed for wildlife purposes.
    • Private land leased or under an agreement to GFP to provide public access.
    • Highways or other rights-of-way within the state, with specific exceptions.
  • Exception: Hunting guides or their employees may guide hunting activities on road rights-of-way immediately adjacent to property owned or leased by the hunting guide.

Definition of a Hunting Guide:

  • Hunting Guide: A person who holds themselves out to the public as a hunting guide and, for compensation or remuneration, directs or provides services to any person to hunt any wild animals.

Additional Regulations:

  • Federal Agency Regulations: Federal agencies may have additional regulations about guiding and outfitting activities. It is recommended to contact the respective agency for detailed information and compliance.


In South Dakota, inspection laws are in place to ensure compliance with game and fish regulations. These laws allow for the monitoring and enforcement of legal limits and ethical hunting and fishing practices. Here are the key points regarding the inspection of game, fish, and related equipment:

Inspection of Game, Birds, and Fish:

  • Mandatory Compliance: Any person in possession of any game bird, animal, or fish must permit the inspection and count of these items upon the request of an individual authorized to enforce the game and fish laws of the state. This ensures that individuals are adhering to legal bag limits and are not involved in poaching or illegal possession.

Vehicle and Conveyance Inspection:

  • Authority to Stop and Inspect: Any motor vehicle, pickup camper, camper, or any conveyance attached thereto may be stopped for inspection and count by any uniformed law enforcement officer. This provision allows officers to check for compliance with game and fish laws, including the transportation of legally taken wildlife.

Motor Vehicle Restrictions

Motor vehicle restrictions in South Dakota are designed to protect natural habitats, ensure public safety, and uphold the ethical pursuit of the game. These regulations apply to various lands and circumstances. Here's a comprehensive breakdown:

Restrictions on Motor Vehicle Use:

  • GFP Lands: Vehicles are restricted to designated roads and parking areas on lands owned, leased, or controlled by Game, Fish, and Parks (GFP), and waters open to motorized boats.
  • Federal Waterfowl Production Areas: Only in designated parking areas.
  • Fort Pierre National Grasslands: Only on designated roads and trails.
  • U.S. Forest Service Roads in the Black Hills: Only on roads not posted against travel.
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Land: Only on established roads.
  • Waubay National and State Game Refuges: Only on designated trails.
  • Private Land: Vehicle use is restricted without express permission from the owner or lessee.

Hunting from Vehicles:

  • Discharging from Vehicles: Generally prohibited, except for specific varmints and predators under certain conditions.
  • Firearms in Vehicles: Firearms may not protrude from a vehicle on a public road during hunting season, with certain exceptions for specific species.

Use of Vehicles for Hunting:

  • Prohibited Practices: Using a motor vehicle to chase, harass, intercept, pursue, or disturb a game is prohibited.
  • Aerial Hunting: Killing or attempting to kill any wild bird or animal from an aircraft is generally prohibited, except with a valid permit. Using drones for predator or varmint locating or spotting is allowed under specific conditions.
  • Amphibious Vehicles: These vehicles may not be used to hunt or shoot at waterfowl unless stationary or part of a fixed hunting blind.
  • School and Public Lands: Motor vehicles are prohibited for hunting, fishing, or trapping purposes, except on designated roads, trails, or parking areas.
  • Snowmobiles: Prohibited from chasing, harassing, or disturbing wildlife. Specific rules apply when hunting coyotes with snowmobiles.


  • Electronic Communications: It's illegal to send or receive messages by radio, cellular telephone, or other electronic forms while in or on a motor vehicle to hunt big game, small game, or migratory waterfowl.

Further Information:

  • U.S. Forest Service or National Grasslands: Hunters planning to use these public lands should contact the respective office for travel restrictions and details.

Party Hunting Daily Limits

In South Dakota, specific regulations govern party hunting for small game to ensure fair and ethical harvesting while maintaining the integrity of game populations. Here's what you need to know about party hunting daily limits:

Definition of Party Hunting:

  • Mutual Agreement: Legally licensed hunters who mutually agree to hunt small game as a party.
  • Contact Requirements: Members must maintain visual and unaided vocal contact with each other during the hunt.

Regulations on Daily Limits:

  • Aggregate Daily Limit: While individual party members may take more than one daily limit of small games, the total number of small games taken by the entire party must not exceed the combined daily limit for all licensed members of the party. This ensures that the total harvest does not exceed what would be allowed if each member were hunting independently.

Exclusions and Clarifications:

  • Single Party Restriction: These provisions do not apply to individuals who hunt small game as part of more than one party in a single day.
  • Big Game and Migratory Birds: The party hunting daily limits do not apply to big game licenses or tags issued as part of a hunting license, nor do they apply to the hunting of migratory birds.

Protected Animals

In South Dakota, certain animals are protected due to their status on state and/or federal threatened or endangered species lists. Here are the details regarding protected mammals and birds:

Protected Mammals:

  • Wolf: Protected under both state and federal laws.
  • Swift Fox: Included in the protection due to its status on the threatened or endangered lists.
  • Black-footed Ferret: Known as one of the most endangered animals in North America, it is strictly protected.

Nongame Bird Protection and Exceptions:

  • General Protection: Generally, nongame birds are protected and may not be killed.
  • Exceptions: English (house) sparrows, rock pigeons, Eurasian collared doves, and European starlings can be killed as they are not protected under the same regulations due to their invasive or non-native status.
  • Depredation Exception: Certain blackbirds (red-winged and yellow-headed), common grackles, American crows, and black-billed magpies may be killed if they are doing or about to do depredation, which means causing damage or nuisance to crops, livestock, or other property.

Non-Toxic Shot

The use of non-toxic shots is mandated in various areas to reduce environmental contamination and protect wildlife from lead poisoning. Here are the key regulations and recommendations for non-toxic shot usage in South Dakota:

Required Usage for Hunting:

  • Mandated Areas: Non-toxic shot is required for all small game and waterfowl hunting on:
    • State game production areas.
    • Lake and fishing access areas.
    • State park system areas.
    • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land.
    • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Wildlife Production Areas managed by GFP.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA).
  • Prohibition of Lead Shot: Lead shot may not be possessed while hunting waterfowl/small game in these areas.
  • Specific Game Requirements: Hunters targeting ducks, geese, coots, tundra swan, Sandhill cranes, or snipe are prohibited from using lead shot and must use federally approved non-toxic shot.

Encouragement for Broad Use:

  • GFP Encouragement: Hunters are encouraged to use non-toxic shots for all hunting activities, though it's not required on certain lands such as U.S. Forest Service National Grasslands, SD School and Public Lands, or most GFP-managed and leased property designated as Walk-In Areas, CHAP, and CREP areas when hunting small game.

Approved Non-Toxic Shot Types:

  • List of Non-Toxic Shots: Approved types include steel (iron) shot, bismuth-tin, tungsten-polymer, tungsten-matrix, tungsten-iron-fluoropolymer, and combinations thereof. The coated lead shot does not qualify as non-toxic.

Exceptions and Clarifications:

  • Turkeys: As they are classified as big game, turkeys can be hunted with lead shot.
  • Target Shooting: Target shooting with shotguns using lead shot is prohibited on specific state public lands, including State Game Production Areas and lake and fishing access areas, among others.

National Parks, Monuments, Memorials

In South Dakota, as in all states, national parks, monuments, and memorials are protected areas with strict regulations regarding wildlife. Here are the guidelines concerning the taking of wildlife within these areas:

Prohibition of Taking Wildlife:

  • Strict Prohibition: Hunting, trapping, or discharging a firearm is prohibited within the boundaries of:
    • Badlands National Park
    • Jewel Cave National Monument
    • Mount Rushmore National Memorial
    • Wind Cave National Park

Procedure for Wounded Animals:

  • Notification Required: If an animal is wounded outside the boundaries of these protected areas and enters within the boundaries, the hunter is required to immediately notify a Park Ranger before tracking or retrieving the animal.

Public Land and Park Restrictions

In South Dakota, restrictions on public lands and parks are established to ensure the conservation of natural resources, maintain public safety, and manage the land effectively. Here's a comprehensive outline of the various restrictions:

Entry, Use, and Occupation Restrictions:

  • Management Interference: No person may interfere with the management of lands owned or leased by GFP or use the lands contrary to the posted purpose.
  • Camping: Allowed only in designated campgrounds, with specific prohibitions on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA).
  • Campfires: Permitted only in designated campsites or approved devices on GFP lands. Prohibited on WPA.
  • Motor Vehicles: Restricted to roads, trails, or parking areas designated and signed by GFP on SD School and Public Lands. Not permitted for hunting, fishing, or trapping except in designated areas.

Time Restrictions for Entry:

  • Restricted Hours: Only those engaged in lawful activities like hunting, trapping, fishing, or boating may enter, use, or occupy various areas from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Specific Hunting Restrictions:

  • Leased Controlled Waterfowl Hunting Areas: Hunters may only hunt in designated areas and must use constructed blinds where provided.
  • Uncased Firearms: Generally prohibited in state parks, recreation areas, and lakeside use areas with certain exceptions for licensed hunters during specific seasons and activities.
  • Shotguns and Bows: Allowed only in certain areas and for specific types of game.
  • .22 Caliber Rimfire Firearms: Prohibited on most state park and recreation area lands with specific exceptions for designated ranges.

Additional Regulations:

  • Weapon Discharge: Prohibited across or from National Forest Service roads, into caves, or near dwellings and recreation areas.
  • Horse Riding: Restricted to designated trails or areas, with specific allowances for licensed hunters during deer seasons.
  • Natural and Cultural Resources: It's illegal to damage or remove trees, shrubs, earth, rocks, cultural resources, or animal remains without permission.
  • Shed Antler Hunting: Allowed on GFP-owned lands with required permission on leased private lands.

Recommendations and Contacts:

  • Contacting Authorities: Hunters and other users are encouraged to contact U.S. Forest Service or Grasslands offices for information on travel restrictions and fees that might apply.

Railroad Rights-of-Way

Railroad rights-of-way are distinct from road rights-of-way and are subject to different regulations, particularly regarding hunting. Various rail lines in South Dakota have specific policies on hunting within their rights-of-way:

Specific Rail Lines and Restrictions:

Rapid City, Pierre, and Eastern Railroad (RCP&E):

  • Routes include Belle Fourche to the Nebraska border, Rapid City to the South Dakota border, Blunt to Onida, and Huron to Yale. These areas are marked RCP&E and typically prohibit hunting.

Burlington Northern/Santa Fe (BNSF):

  • Covers extensive routes including White Butte to Ortonville, Aberdeen to North Sioux City, and several stretches in between. BNSF rights-of-way are generally off-limits for hunting.

Britton Line:

  • Extends from Aberdeen northeast to the SD/ND state line, with specific hunting regulations or prohibitions.

Sioux Valley Line:

  • Canton to Elk Point with particular attention to hunting restrictions.

Mitchell to Rapid City (MRC) Line:

  • Not open during resident-only pheasant season and prohibits big game hunting. The line has specific sections closed to hunting, with some parts open to small game.

Napa to Platte Line:

  • Stretches from Napa to the City of Platte with certain segments open to small game hunting and others closed entirely.

General Rules and Considerations:

  • Varying Degrees of Control: Different rail lines have various restrictions or allowances for hunting, ranging from complete prohibition to specific conditions.
  • Abandoned Rail Lines: These may revert to private ownership, often to adjoining landowners. Hunting in these areas typically requires express permission from the landowner.
  • Respect for Restrictions: Railroad rights-of-way are private property and often involve safety hazards. Respect for restrictions and obtaining necessary permissions are crucial.

Road-Killed Big Game

In South Dakota, there are specific protocols and legal requirements for dealing with road-killed big game to ensure public safety, ethical treatment, and legal compliance. Here are the key points regarding the road-killed big game:

Vehicle-Wildlife Accidents:

  • Reporting Accidents: Accidents involving a motor vehicle and deer or other big game must be reported to law enforcement if there is significant damage to the vehicle. This helps in documentation and ensuring public road safety.

Possession of Road-Killed Big Game:

  • Authorization Required: Before an individual can possess a big game animal killed by a motor vehicle, they must obtain authorization from a GFP conservation officer. This regulation is in place to ensure that the taking of wildlife complies with conservation and management objectives and to prevent the illegal harvest of animals.
  • Illegality of Unauthorized Possession: Taking carcasses or any parts of a big game animal, including antlers, without proper authorization is illegal and can result in penalties.

Sale/Use of Wildlife

In South Dakota, the sale and use of wildlife are regulated to ensure sustainable wildlife populations and ethical treatment. Here are the specifics on what can and cannot be sold or bartered:

Permissible Sales:

  • Big Game: The skin, head, or bone-hard antlers of big game animals can be sold or bartered.
  • Birds: Skin or plumage of pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse, prairie chickens, or grey partridge is permissible.
  • Turkey Feathers: Can be sold or bartered.
  • Small Game: Skins of cottontail rabbit, fox squirrel, grey squirrel, and red squirrel, provided they have been lawfully taken by a licensed hunter, may be sold.
  • Furbearers: Legal furbearers can be sold or bartered under regulated conditions.


  • Game Birds/Animals: Generally, no person may sell or barter game birds or animals, with the exceptions noted above.
  • Wanton Waste: No person may wantonly waste game, meaning all parts of legally taken animals should be used responsibly and ethically, and nothing should be taken without a legitimate purpose.


In South Dakota, trespass laws are stringent, especially concerning hunting and trapping on private lands. Here are the details on what constitutes trespass about hunting:

General Trespass Regulations:

  • Permission Required: No person may hunt or trap any species of game, including unprotected species, on private land without explicit permission from the landowner or lessee.
  • Black Hills Fire Protection District Exception: In the area south of Interstate 90 and west of SD Hwy 79, hunters may enter private land unless it is posted or they are verbally told not to do so by the owner or lessee.

Boundaries of the Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District:

The District is defined by a specific geographical boundary commencing at the WY-SD state line at I-90 and extending through various highways until it loops back at the state line. It excludes any area within municipal limits.

Consequences of Knowingly Trespassing:

  • First Offense: If a person is convicted of knowingly trespassing, their applicable hunting or trapping privilege is revoked for one year.
  • Subsequent Offenses: A person's applicable hunting or trapping privilege will be revoked for two years following a second or subsequent trespassing conviction within ten years.

Unarmed Retrieval

In South Dakota, specific rules allow hunters to retrieve lawfully taken game under certain conditions to respect private property rights and ensure public safety. Here are the details for unarmed retrieval of the game:

Retrieval of Small Game:

  • Unarmed and On Foot: Hunters may retrieve lawfully taken small game from private or public land (except National Wildlife Refuges closed to such entry) if they are unarmed and retrieve the game on foot. This allows for the recovery of game without posing a threat or causing disturbance to the land.
  • Rights-of-Way Shooting: To legally take the small game from road rights-of-way, the hunter must be within the rights-of-way boundaries when shooting, and the game must originate from or be flying over the road rights-of-way.

Retrieval of Big Game:

  • Permission Required: Permission is needed to retrieve big game, including turkeys, from both private and public lands. This typically involves contacting the landowner or lessee for access.

Walk-In Area/CREP/CHAP Restrictions

In South Dakota, Walk-In Areas, Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and Controlled Hunting Access Program (CHAP) areas are designated for public hunting access on private lands. These areas are leased by the Game, Fish, and Parks (GFP) but have specific usage restrictions to respect the rights of landowners and ensure proper use. Here are the restrictions:

General Access Restrictions:

  • Limited to Hunting: No one may enter, use, or occupy these leased lands for any purpose other than hunting unless they have permission from the landowner or any lessee of the land other than GFP.

Conditions for Hunters:

  • Foot Travel Only: Individuals accessing these lands for hunting purposes must move or travel on foot.
  • Jurisdiction Irrespective: The conditions for entering, using, or occupying lands leased by GFP apply regardless of the state's jurisdiction over the individual seeking access.
  • Night Hunting and Trapping: Permission from the landowner is required for night hunting or trapping on these areas.

Youth Accompaniment

In South Dakota, the accompaniment of youth hunters is regulated to ensure safety and responsible hunting practices. Here are the details for youth accompaniment:

Accompaniment Requirement:

  • Age Requirement for Youth: Youth under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or a responsible adult who is at least 18 years old while hunting.

Be Respectful of Road Conditions

In South Dakota, as in many rural areas, respecting road conditions is crucial for maintaining positive relationships between hunters and landowners and ensuring the safety and accessibility of rural roads. Here are the guidelines:

Importance of Road Conditions:

  • Landowner Concerns: Landowners are particularly concerned about road conditions during hunting seasons. Damaged roads can hinder their ability to use farm equipment effectively, impacting their livelihood.
  • Risk of Ruts: Traveling on roads during wet periods can create ruts that, once frozen, become difficult to navigate and can damage vehicles and farm equipment.

Recommended Actions:

  • Avoiding Damage: If you notice your vehicle is leaving ruts or damaging the road, the best course of action is to back out of the soft area.
  • Parking and Walking: Instead of risking further damage, park your vehicle in a safe, stable area and walk to your hunting location.
Wild Advisor Pro


The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.