TOC’s Lewis and Clark Program Honored

Lewis and Clark had to employ a lot of outdoor skills to survive their journey.
Lewis and Clark had to employ a lot of outdoor skills to survive their journey.

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota State Historical Society will be presenting the Governor’s Awards for History on Saturday, April 5, during its annual history conference in Pierre.Three individuals and two organizations are being recognized by the State Historical Society for their efforts in preserving state history.

The award winners include Barbara Johnson of Aberdeen, Steve Olson of Watertown, Harl A. Dalstrom of Omaha, Neb., The Outdoor Campus of Sioux Falls and the Whitewood Public Library in Whitewood.

“These people and organizations are to be commended for their efforts at preserving our state’s history,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “Because of their work, our past will be kept alive for future generations in South Dakota.”

“We are pleased to give out these awards,” added Jay D. Vogt, director of the State Historical Society. “These are just a few of the shining examples of how people across the state and beyond are helping us in our efforts to promote, nurture and sustain South Dakota history.”

The Outdoor Campus is an organizational winner. The organization has been doing “a history lesson with a twist” for many years, as every year hundreds of Sioux Falls-area fourth graders come to The Outdoor Campus to learn about Lewis and Clark, who explored the Louisiana Purchase for President Jefferson from 1804-1806. The hands-on history lesson focuses on the outdoor skills the Corps of Discovery needed to survive their journey north and south in South Dakota.

A second organizational winner is the Whitewood Public Library. The commitment of the library staff to gather and file historical information about their small historical Black Hills town just west of Sturgis on Interstate 90 is commendable. Their history-gathering mission resulted in several publications comprising the Whitewood Library Historical Collection, noting the 125-year history of Whitewood in 2013. Staff assisted Whitewood sixth graders in publishing “A Journey Through Time: Whitewood Schools, 1888-2013.”

The State Historical Society is headquartered at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. For more information, visit or call (605) 773-3458.


Biology is SO COOL!

by Thea

Nobody ever told me biology was THIS COOL. I recently got to write a story for SD Game, Fish and Parks biologists about a new doe and fawn study we are doing in McCook and Lake Counties in South Dakota. The release and a link to a video about the study are attached. Check it out. You’ll wish you were a biologist!


GFP Conducts Helicopter Assisted White-tailed Deer Survival Study in Lake and McCook Counties

PIERRE, S.D. – Residents of McCook and Lake Counties had a different view in the sky earlier this month. A helicopter with trained wildlife wranglers dangled in the sky to assist with capturing 50 deer for the Department of Game, Fish and Parks’ (GFP) new doe and fawn survival study.

“Over the last few weeks, we connected with landowners in the two counties for permission to do the study on their land, and signed up over 50,000 acres for the study,” said Julie DeJong, regional wildlife manager. “The support of interested landowners has been crucial in this research project.”

A company out of California, Native Range Capture Services, was hired to assist South Dakota wildlife biologists with capturing does to study their survival, as well as the survival of their spring fawns. The helicopter crew, comprised of a pilot, a net gunner and a “mugger,” were dispatched in early March over the herd to first shoot a net at deer. Then, the mugger jumped from the helicopter onto the ground to wrestle the deer, tied its legs like a cowboy does a steer and blindfolded it to calm the animal.

“After untangling the doe from the net, the mugger then attached a radio-collar and inserted a vaginal implant transmitter (VIT). The VIT will stay in the doe until she gives birth, and will assist researchers in locating fawns soon after birth. Each doe was given a shot of penicillin and was released on site,” DeJong said.

Both the collars and the VIT transmit a series of slow beeps which can be picked up by researchers using a GFP truck equipped with a specialized radio receiver.  The radio collars beep faster if a deer is stopped in one location for more than eight hours, DeJong said, usually indicating a death. The VIT transmitters are temperature sensitive and will speed up when they are expelled with the fawn.

Right now, the biologists track the collared does every seven to 10 days, driving around the two counties until all 50 does are found. They plan to spend a lot of time in the areas at the end of May when most fawns are born.

“The second part of the study involves capturing the fawns and attaching radio transmitters,” she said. “Radio-collared fawns will be monitored once every seven to 10 days for a year. Locating the fawns will involve spotlighting and walking searches.”

The public can assist in the research by contacting GFP if they find a fawn in the wild.

“But do not disturb, pick up or detain the fawn,” she said. “This could lead to abandonment by the mother. GFP personnel utilize specific procedures to reduce those chances of abandonment.”

Three-fourths of this project is paid for by federal matching funds that are acquired through a tax from the sale of guns and ammunition. The remaining funds are from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses in South Dakota.

“Deer are such an important resource to the people of our state; not only for hunters, but for others who just enjoy seeing deer in the wild. Knowledge of the number of does and fawns that survive from one year to the next is vital information for estimating population trends and making sound tag allocations. Hunters are encouraged to treat collared does like any other doe as we want to get a close estimate of the doe survival in McCook and Lake Counties and hunting mortality is a component of that estimate,” DeJong concluded.

For more information, please contact Julie DeJong at 605.362.2700. To better understand this study, video footage is available; please check out the three-minute YouTube clip here:

More from the Trail Cam

We’re adding some photos here that you haven’t seen on our Facebook site. We have learned so much from our trail cam!

See the rabbit?
See the rabbit?
Do you see why this one scared us when we first saw it? That's the fox, minus the fur on his tail.
Do you see why this one scared us when we first saw it? That’s not a large cat – it’s a fox with mange. Its fur on the tail is missing.
Do you see the bird in the lower right corner?
Do you see the bird in the lower right corner?
Can you spot the bird in the lower right corner?
Can you spot the bird in the lower right corner?
What are these two up to?
What are these two up to?