The Scouting Report: A weekly digest
Rebounding river otters, Gen. Custer’s footsteps, Pierre’s trees, Mars trooper, broadband fail
In the department of that didn’t take long, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks closed its river otter season on Nov. 18. That followed the successful harvest limit of 20 otters in a season that opened at sunrise on Nov. 1.
GF&P rules allowed for a 24-hour grace period for otters trapped after the season’s closing. Trapped otters that survived were supposed to be set free.
The brevity of the season is more evidence that river otters are rebounding after being hunted to extinction in the state during the 20th and late 19th centuries. They were prized for their fur. In 1978, the river otter was added to the state’s threatened species list. But their fortune changed in the late 1990s when the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe released three dozen otters into the Big Sioux River. Their numbers have proliferated since, but researchers admit they don’t have a lot of evidence about the overall population because of the reclusive nature of the varmints.
South Dakota State University is currently studying the population. Amanda Cheeseman, an assistant professor of SDSU’s Department of Natural Resource Management, said earlier this year that, “Understanding (the river otter) population after being delisted from the endangered species list is crucial for maintaining sustainable populations.”
An updated version of “Exploring with Custer: The 1874 Black Hills Expedition” is being released – the fourth edition. This edition will include photographs taken at the identical locations of all 50 photos that William H. Illingworth, the Custer Expedition’s photographer, took in 1874.
The first version of “Exploring with Custer” was released in 2002. Since then, digital cameras have taken over photography, which allowed photographer Paul Horsted greater precision in where the contemporary photographs were taken compared to the originals.