Off-campus South Dakota State University users: To download campus access theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your South Dakota State University ID and password.

Non-South Dakota State University users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis through interlibrary loan.

Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Kenneth F. Higgins


Presently, a publication on the county distribution of South Dakota mammals does not exist. A state-wide mail survey was conducted in 1992 to determine the present distribution by county, of South Dakota's medium- to large-sized mammals. Eight hundred and thirty-four questionnaires were sent to natural resource managers, trappers, and others that were assumed to have knowledge of the distribution of mammals in the state. Three hundred and nine questionnaires were returned for a 37% return rate. Survey results were used to develop species distribution maps to compare with past species distribution data obtained from museum records and published literature. A review of early historical museum collections in South Dakota, and a review of mail survey methods is presented in the thesis. Specimen location data from past studies or collections were obtained from 21 national and state museums or institutions and about 500 published accounts. Compared to published distribution maps of the 1950's, 12 of the 42 mammals studied seem to have expanded their range, four have decreased their range, and 13 have maintained the same range in South Dakota. I was uncertain about temporal changes for 13 species in this study because of questionable sightings reported by the survey respondents and substantial voids in the literature and museum records. Thirteen counties in South Dakota lacked published literature records and 44 lacked museum specimens for the 42 species studied. Most specimen collections and published accounts are of mammals of the Black Hills area. Future studies and systematic collections are needed to verify the distribution of mammals in north- and south-central South Dakota because these areas are where data or collections are lacking the most. Study results indicated that with some modifications, a mail survey showed potential as an effective technique to assess the distribution of medium- to large-sized mammals by county. Future use of a mail survey should include a very select survey public, stricter survey methods, and drawings or photographs should be provided for survey participants to enable better differentiation of similar species. To increase response rates, I recommend pre-survey exposure of the project to publics (e.g., magazine or newspaper articles), three follow-up mailings in addition to notices, newsletters and phone calls, and the provision of postage-paid return envelopes for questionnaires.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Mammals--South Dakota--Geographical distribution
Mammal populations--South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references (pages 79-83)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright 1989 Carmen R. Blumberg. All Rights Reserved.