South Dakota hunters should be mindful that fire danger persists across the state, and safety measures need to be taken to help prevent wildfires this opening weekend of the pheasant season.

“We have had a particularly dry year in our state, and hunters will find high fire danger conditions just about anywhere they go,” said Emmett Keyser, assistant director for the Game, Fish and Parks Wildlife Division.

Keyser said there are several steps hunters should take to help prevent wild fires.

“Park your vehicle in a safe spot that is clear of any vegetation and then walk,” Keyser said. “Cover can be tall and tinder-dry, capable of igniting from the heat of the undercarriage of a vehicle. Park your vehicle in a safe spot, and exercise extreme caution wherever you might drive.”

Besides normal hunting equipment, hunters should include some basic fire prevention equipment: an extra container of water, fire extinguisher, and fire suppression equipment, such as a shovel or flappers.

Hunters should also report fires.

“Some of our best fire detection comes from all our hunters in the field,” Keyser said. “With all those eyes on the horizon, it is very likely a potential fire can be detected and dealt with before it can progress. Hunters should have their cell phones handy and immediately contact local emergency services or 9-1-1 to report a fire.”

Keyser noted that South Dakota has a very good record of fire safety during hunting seasons.

“The key to fire safety is awareness,” he said. “Hunters need to use common sense and be aware of the potential for wildfires no matter what the conditions. A responsible person’s actions can make a huge difference in protecting both property and wildlife resources.”

Logo courtesy South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks

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