The South Dakota Wing of the Civil Air Patrol has initiated an aerial search for hunters who may be stranded in the Black Hills after the recent severe snowstorm. The Department of Game, Fish and Parks requested the search after receiving numerous reports of stranded hunters.
The CAP aircraft will fly the area north of Highway 36 and 16A from Highway 79 to the Wyoming border. This is the primary elk hunting area and the area that received the most snow. Special GPS gear on CAP aircraft will allow the aircrew to radio a precise location to SDGFP personnel on the ground for them to reach those stranded.
The state Department of Public Safety has requested CAP search for animal carcasses along all State Highway right-of-ways and I-90.
This airborne mission is to be carried out in the counties of Harding, Butte, Lawrence, Pennington, Custer, Fall River, Shannon, Bennett, Jackson, Haakon, Meade, Perkins, Corson, Ziebach, and Dewey.
Initially, CAP aircraft based in Spearfish and Rapid City will take to the air to begin the two missions. CAP units across the state have been put on alert should the missions need additional aircraft, more aircrews, ground search teams or mission support staff.
The South Dakota Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, with squadrons in South Dakota in Sioux Falls, Brookings, Rapid City, Pierre, Custer and Spearfish has approximately 300 officers and cadets, six light aircraft and 17 multi-purpose vehicles. These assets are available to federal, state and county governments, emergency responders and law enforcement agencies to perform search and rescue, homeland security, disaster relief, humanitarian assistance and counter-drug missions.