BLACK HILLS NATIONAL FOREST, S.D. (KOTA TV) - A combination of technology and boots on the ground form the basis of recent missing person searches across the area.
"You can have air support, like we've had helicopters, we've had drones, with the most recent search that is on-going as we speak," said Kevin Thom, Pennington County Sheriff. "We've had a couple of different horseback groups come in and search from horse back, and we've had K9's as well."
The most recent search is for 66-year-old Larry Genzlinger, who went missing while elk hunting in Black Hills National Forest more than a week ago..
Drones flew over the area where Genzlinger was last seen. Search teams go out in groups of seven to 12 and are equipped with GPS units.
"Every time a searcher goes out, we issue them a GPS and they turn it on when they get to their search area and it helps to grid search," said Dustin Morrison, a Pennington County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant. "Then, we download it when they're complete, to know what areas have been covered, what areas we need to re-cover, and what areas are new areas that we should look at covering."
The terrain itself is a challenge to the search effort. The area includes vast open expanses, as well as incredibly dense and remote woods that have yet to be cleared all the way through, making searching and visibility incredibly difficult.
"The terrain is so steep, so to speak, that with all of the ground coverage, it's very slow- moving," said James Dietz, Operations Officer for the Pennington County Search and Rescue.
Last year, Pennington County Search and Rescue were called out to 91 incidents, 13 of those were rescues.