CUSTER STATE PARK, S.D. – Custer State Park (CSP) will officially reopen in full capacity on Friday, Dec. 22. All interior roads and trails will be accessible for visitor use. Park officials look forward to welcoming visitors for the 2018 spring and summer seasons as all campgrounds and resorts will be fully functional.
Park officials ask that visitors be diligent and aware of their surroundings when hiking as the effects of the fire are still being discovered.
Park officials continue to work on fencing, trail and road repairs as well as assessing the wildlife. The burros were transferred to an enclosed, off-site facility and will continue to receive daily treatment. Before transporting them, veterinarians ran blood work and determined one burro was suffering from organ failure and would not survive its injuries. The decision was made to humanely have the burro put down.
The majority of bison have been located and will continue to be evaluated and monitored by the park officials. Some deer and elk did not survive the fire, as well as buffalo, and had to be humanely put down due to fire injuries. Visitors are asked to report injured or deceased wildlife to the park office. Wildlife and park officials will continue to monitor and determine impacts to elk, bighorn sheep, antelope and deer.
The mountain lion and coyote hunting seasons will also open as planned on Dec. 26, 2017. Free access permits were available for both seasons to residents only. More information for both seasons can be found online at http://gfp.sd.gov/.
The antlerless elk hunting seasons set to begin Dec. 30, 2017 – Jan. 7, 2018 and Jan. 13 – 31, 2018 have been cancelled due to the vast area burned within these hunting units and the absence of elk in the area due to the removal of cover and forage.
With an outpouring of support from the public, Custer State Park officials thank everyone for the comments, questions and concerns regarding the park, wildlife, campgrounds and the roads throughout the Legion Lake Fire. The park has received an abundance of questions about donations and involvement. In conjunction with South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation, Custer State Park is asking those who want to donate to Custer State Park and the recent fire, visit parkswildlifefoundation.org/donate.aspx.