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Roadside Mowing: Hold off until after July 10

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PIERRE, SD (KELO AM) – The South Dakota Departments of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) and Transportation (DOT) want to remind individuals there are laws and rules governing when mowing of highway right-of-way ditches can begin.

“Roadside ditches provide valuable nesting cover, especially in portions of the state with limited lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program or other upland nesting habitat,” stated Tony Leif, GFP Division of Wildlife director. “This is especially important this year due to the drop in bird numbers we experienced last year. Our department is asking for the public’s consideration in delaying haying and mowing activities within roadside ditches and we want to thank individuals in advance for their help in protecting and sustaining the state’s pheasant population.”

Administrative Rule 70:04:06:06

No mowing of the right-of-way may begin in the West River counties of Gregory, Lyman or Tripp before June 15. No mowing of the right-of-way may begin in East River counties before July 10. For more information, please visit: http://legis.sd.gov/Rules/DisplayRule.aspx?Rule=70:04:06:06.

Codified Law 31-5-22

Violation of any rule authorizing mowing of ditches as misdemeanor. Any person who violates any of the rules authorized pursuant to § 31-5-21 is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. For more information, please visit:http://legis.sd.gov/statutes/DisplayStatute.aspx?Type=Statute&Statute=31-5-22.

In the spring and early summer, hen pheasants seeking suitable nesting locations are attracted to the vegetation in roadsides. Pheasant production in roadsides is diminished when roadsides are mowed prior to completion of nesting activity. Incubating hens nearing their hatch dates can be struck and killed by hay mowing equipment. Hens and newly hatched broods remain susceptible to mowing equipment for another two weeks after hatching due to the restricted mobility of chicks and the tendency of the hen and young to hide from approaching danger rather than flushing to escape.

GFP research has documented that being struck by hay-mowing equipment is a substantial source of hen pheasant mortality during the nesting and brood-rearing season in June and July; including hens nesting in roadsides. Please visit the below link to a game report for more information:http://gfp.sd.gov/wildlife/management/research-projects/docs/2004-11.pdf.

For additional details on the DOT mowing regulations, visit this link to a recently issued press release:http://news.sd.gov/newsitem.aspx?id=16199.

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