Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
The South Dakota endangered species law was passed in 1977. This statute was designed to ensure the protection of species determined to be threatened or endangered within the state. The Department of Game, Fish and Parks and the Department of Agriculture are responsible for the conservation, management, restoration and propagation of endangered and threatened species in South Dakota.
The Game, Fish and Parks Department is the lead state agency for threatened and endangered species conservation. The Game, Fish and Parks Commission is required to review the list of species every 2 years. This review makes the list a dynamic one, with species added or deleted depending on their abundance or vulnerability. Recommended changes are published and circulated to interested parties within the state and in adjoining states. Thirty days are allowed for public comment. As with any Commission action, public input is sought and considered during the biennial threatened and endangered species list review.
Presently, the South Dakota state threatened and endangered species list contains 29 species, which are classified using criteria similar to those of the federal law (Appendix A). The state list includes one federally threatened and seven federally endangered species.
An important related rare species protection effort is the South Dakota Natural Heritage Program, a cooperative project of The Nature Conservancy and the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. The Natural Heritage Program uses numerous information sources to document and monitor the rarity and potential threats to the continued survival of approximately 400 plant and animal species, as well as a number of unique natural features and plant communities. Critical sites are identified for monitoring and protection, either through purchase of important sites or cooperation with private landowners and public land management agencies. This data source enables the Game, Fish and Parks Department to formulate biological opinions on the environmental impacts of projects that may alter or destroy significant habitat. Intervention before species decline to the point of being listed as threatened or endangered is the goal of the Game, Fish and Parks Department through its Natural Heritage Program.