North Dakota Hunters Educators Association
 
 
 


 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
Welcome to NDHEA
 

NDHEA Newsletter! Click here to view!
 

 

Look for new events on our events calendar page!

 

APROXIMATE DEADLINES FOR BIG GAME HUNTING APPLICATION now available on the Events Calendar, click on the link to the left or click here!

 

Information is available about our upcoming annual meeting and events for North Dakota Game and Fish annual award meeting and workshops coming up!  Click on the link to the left or click here!

 

2016 Quarterly meeting dates

Meeting times: 1:00 PM  

Location: ND Game and Fish Department

4.       Fourth Quarter-October 15th

 

 

NDG&F October 3rd Newsletter

 

Game and Fish Volunteers Recognized

Volunteer instructors for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department were recognized Aug. 27 at the annual training conference in Bismarck.

Lynn Baier, Fordville, and Chuck Vasicek, Bismarck, were recognized as instructors of the year; Dickinson residents Dave Urlacher and Troy Anderson were named team of the year; and Harold Randall, Grand Forks, Lorne Sterner, Casselton, and Gordonna Toepke, New Salem, received the lifetime achievement award.

Honored for 30 years of service were David Colby, Kenmare; Wayne Evans, Stanley; Bruce Fairbrother, Towner; Allen Giese, Wahpeton; David Just, Beulah; Gary Leslie, Burlington; Allen Martin, Drake; Mark Walsh, Williston; Terry Week, Beach; Walter Zimbelman, Fullerton.

Recognized for 25 years of service were Ray Aamold, Hatton; Rene Arnold, Cavalier; Douglas Benson, Fargo; Dale Bren, Elgin; Neil Dockter, Horace; Mark Frost, Carrington; Thomas Kelsh, Minot; Arvid Knutson, Park River; Bruce Messmer, Dickinson; Darris Olson, Bowbells; Paul Sinner, Wahpeton; Larry Thompson, Watford City; Merle Weatherly, Jamestown.

Honored for 20 years of service were Wayne Anderson, Bismarck; Lynn Baier, Fordville; Thomas Balsdon, Osnabrock; Beth Darr, Williston; Glen Fuhrman, Enderlin; Theodore Hoberg, Grand Forks; Mark Hunt, Minot; Dan Imdieke, Linton; Larry Johnson, Belfield; Larry Leier, Hague; Bradley Moser, Medina; Larry Nagel, Shields; Pam Podoll, Velva; Paul Roeder, Milnor; Douglas Sommerfeld, Lisbon; Larry Viall, Epping; Mark Volk, Bismarck; Linda Weigum, Zap.

Fifteen-year service awards were presented to George Babcock, Garrison; Lynn Baltrusch, Fessenden; Janice Bishop, Kathryn; Diane Dockter, Horace; Craig Enervold, Moorhead, Minn.; Corinne Engen, Anamoose; John Gorman, Larimore; Jeremy Haugen, Minot; Rodney Howatt, Langdon; Brent Jacobson, Garrison; Grant Johnson, Almont; Mitchell Kallias, Minot; Darrell Kersting, Kindred; Richard Michels, Elgin; Tony Poupa, Sand Coulee, Mont.; Chris Pulver, Stanley; Scott Rehak, Williston; Randel Sand, Tuttle; Elizabeth Schaner, Center; Wayne Stanley, Minot; Jodie Woroniecki, Hebron.

Ten-year active instructors recognized were Richard Bell, Wyndmere; Jim Bennett, Minot; Roger Decker, Belfield; Gary Green, Granville; Todd Greenmyer, Oakes; Kari Helland, Kathryn; Justin Hughes, Minot; John Jacobson, Hatton; Sean Jalbert, Grandin; Perry Johnson, Northwood; Ruth Johnson, Belfield; Curtis Kaseman, Jamestown; Suzanne Kersting, Kindred; Kristi Kilde, Glen Ullin; Todd Lerol, Grafton; Calvin Leyendecker, Marion; Dale Miller, Grandin; Michael Myers, Dickinson; Robert Olstad, Galesburg; Ross Reimche, Bottineau; Gary Schaner, Bismarck; Gerald Schmidt, Devils Lake; Steve Schrader, West Fargo; John Schwalk, Milnor; Renae Selensky, Rugby; Dan Spellerberg, Oakes; Rich Truesdell, Wahpeton; Joe Tuchscherer, Rugby; Lavern Vance, Ray; Lamar Wells, Wyndmere; Gary Wilz, Killdeer.

Recognized for five years of service were Joshua Barringer, Mooreton; Lena Anna Marie Bohm, Mohall; Damon Bosche, Medina; Jamey Boutilier, Hazen; Rodd Compson, Jamestown; Matthew Deal, Grace City; Jeremy Duckwitz, Moffit; Shari Fisher, Bismarck; Albert Frisinger, Harwood; David Kraft, Bismarck; Jacob Miedema, Jamestown; Scott Norton, Mandan; Tom Nowatzki, Bottineau; Quentin Obrigewitsch, Belfield; Daniel Olson, Medina; Jeffrey Sorum, Grand Forks; Matt Webster, Jamestown.

Two-year active instructors recognized were Michael Bahm, Mandan; Craig Blomster, Leeds; Daniel Duchscherer, Towner; Jason Forster, Lidgerwood; Jamie Germundson, Stanley; Clarence Gilstad, Ashley; Lacy Gustafson, Lincoln; William Harkness, Leeds; Craig Hendrickson, Grand Forks; Michael Hoime, Moorhead, Minn.; Coby Hubble, Crosby; Alan Klitzke, Powers Lake; Evan Kuntz, West Fargo; Dennis Lakoduk, Minot; Seth Larson, Max; Krista Lundgren, Kulm; Bob Martin, Jamestown; Jerome Moszer, Bismarck; James Nadeau, Dunseith; Erin Odell, Belfield; Javier Ortiz, Minot Air Force Base; Carl Quam, Tolna; Dorsel Randolph, Velva; Kristofer Schmidt, Washburn; Daniel Sem, Minot; Richard Srejma, Minot; Russell Thomas, New Town; Earl Torgerson, Bismarck; Neal Walker, Jamestown; Houston Williams, Minot; Al Zimmerman, West Fargo. 

Order 2017 OUTDOORS Calendars

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is taking orders for its North Dakota OUTDOORS calendar, the source for all hunting season and application dates for 2017. Along with outstanding color photographs of North Dakota wildlife and scenery, it also includes sunrise-sunset times and moon phases.

To order, send $3 for each, plus $1 postage, to: Calendar, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095. Be sure to include a three-line return address with your order, or the post office may not deliver our return mailing.

The calendar is the North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine’s December issue, so current subscribers will automatically receive it in the mail.

 

Important NDHEA info regarding Mentored Hunts and Family Shooting events

NDHEA is pleased to be offering assistance with funding for Mentored Hunts and Family Shooting Events!

Family Fun Shoot/Mentored Hunt policies

click here to download a copy of the policies

Request for Participation (RFP) to conduct an event

click here to download the RFP form

 

NDHEA QUARTERLY MEETINGS

All meetings are to be held at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department building in Bismarck.

The following meetings will be held instead in Minot ND @
Minot Holiday Inn Riverside
2200 East Burdick Expressway
Minot ND. 58701
701-852-2504
1-800-315-2621
 

Coyote Catalog Available for Hunters, Landowners

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department have reopened the Coyote Catalog to connect coyote hunters and trappers with landowners who want fewer coyotes in their areas.
The Coyote Catalog is an online database similar to the one the Game and Fish Department uses to connect deer hunters with farmers and ranchers.
“We’ve had a lot of success matching deer hunters with landowners,” said NDGF Director Terry Steinwand. “We hope the Coyote Catalog works out just as well.”
NDDA officials estimate livestock producers in North Dakota lost more than $1 million last year to coyotes. At the same time, coyotes are a popular furbearer species for hunters and trappers.
“I encourage landowners, especially farmers and ranchers who have problems with coyote depredation, to sign up for the Coyote Catalog,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “Hunting and trapping are valuable tools in managing these predators.”
Goehring and Steinwand said the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services should be the first contact for landowners experiencing coyote depredation of livestock.
Landowners can sign up on the NDDA website at www.nd.gov/ndda/coyote-catalog. Required information includes county and contact information.
Hunters and trappers can sign up at the NDGF website at www.gf.nd.gov.
Periodically throughout the winter, hunters or trappers will receive information on participating landowners, and they can then contact landowners to make arrangements.
Although the Coyote Catalog does not guarantee a good match for every participating landowner or hunter, Goehring and Steinwand said it has great potential to focus hunting or trapping pressure in areas where farmers and ranchers are experiencing coyote depredation problems.
Anyone who registered for the Coyote Catalog in the past must register again to activate their names on the database.
The Coyote Catalog will remain active through March 31, and then start up again next winter.

Game and Fish to Recommend One Deer License in 2015

A new plan under consideration by the State Game and Fish Department would allow North Dakota deer hunters only one license per year, starting with the 2015 season.
The preferred license distribution plan is the result of a declining deer population and continuing high license demand. “This year we had about 30,000 people who applied for a deer gun license and didn’t get one in the lottery,” said Game and Fish wildlife division chief Jeb Williams. “This new system will give more people an opportunity to hunt deer each year, compared to our current system.”
To gather input on possible changes, Game and Fish held a series of public deer management meetings across the state last winter. Hundreds of people attended these meetings, and many more interested hunters and landowners also provided written or verbal comments on how Game and Fish might manage deer license distribution, given the low population of both whitetail and mule deer in much of the state.
Following the deer management meetings, potential changes were also discussed at the spring round of public Game and Fish advisory board meetings held around the state.
“After evaluating all the input we received last winter,” Williams said, “the general feedback we heard is that hunters understand there is no longer enough licenses so that everyone can get one for the gun season, but at the same time, they don’t feel the current system is equitably distributing licenses, since some hunters can get two or even three licenses when thousands of hunters get none.”
To begin to address that inequity, Game and Fish’s preferred option for 2015 is to limit each hunter to one deer license per year. Williams said that still doesn’t guarantee that every gun hunter who applies in the lottery will get a deer license, but it will eliminate the possibility of someone getting multiple licenses.
If deer populations rebound substantially, Williams said the way licenses are allocated could return to the current system. “However, we are dealing with two dynamics that will make it difficult to do so anytime soon,” Williams added. “We have a deer herd that has been trending downward for several years, and we also have a growing population of people who possibly are interested in North Dakota’s hunting and fishing opportunities.”
In the preferred option, a hunter who is successful in the deer gun lottery would not be able to purchase a bow license or receive a muzzleloader license. However, as a way to provide additional bowhunting recreation, a hunter with a lottery gun license could also hunt with a bow any time during the open archery season, but only for the deer and unit specified on the license.
Resident hunters who apply in the deer gun lottery and do not receive a license, will still be able to purchase a bow license that is valid statewide for any deer.
“This is one of those things that we heard from people who like to hunt with both gun and bow,” Williams said. “They wanted to be able to apply for a gun license, and if they didn’t get one, they could still get a bow license. At the same time, if they did draw a gun license, they wanted a chance to hunt that deer with a bow during the archery season as well.
“We know it’s not the same as having both a gun and a bow license,” Williams added, “but we feel it’s a fair compromise while we work toward rebuilding our deer herd.”
Another part of the preferred option is that hunters would be able to apply simultaneously for the deer gun and muzzleloader lotteries. The application would allow choice of a preference, so if the hunter’s name is drawn and both muzzleloader and deer gun licenses are available at that time, the computer would issue the hunter’s preferred license.
In such cases, the computer would then remove the hunter’s name from the other lottery. Also in that case, Williams said a hunter would maintain the accumulated bonus points for the application that was removed from the lottery.
In addition, Williams said hunters will not lose any bonus points if they choose not to apply for a particular license.
Youth hunters under age 16 would be exempt under the preferred option, and could get a bow license as well as a deer gun or youth season license.
Gratis license holders could hunt in any open season on their own land, but may only get one license per year.
 

Information Sought in Illegal Taking of White-tailed Deer in Emmons County

North Dakota Game and Fish Department district game warden Erik Schmidt is searching for answers in the illegal shooting of four white-tailed deer in Emmons County during opening weekend of pheasant hunting season.
Schmidt said two mature bucks, one a 4x4 and the other a 5x5, were found in a bean field 1.5 miles east of Strasburg. A doe and fawn were found in a stubble field 5 miles southwest of Linton. It is believed all four were shot late evening Oct. 11, or early morning Oct. 12.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Report All Poachers telephone number at 800-472-2121, or contact Schmidt at 701-220-7160. RAP is offering a $1,000 reward.
The RAP line offers rewards for information that leads to conviction of fish and wildlife law violators. Reporting parties can remain anonymous.

 

Sportsmen Against Hunger Accepting Goose Meat

North Dakota’s Sportsmen Against Hunger program can now accept donations of Canada geese taken during the regular waterfowl hunting season.
Previously, the program could accept snow, blue and Ross’s geese during the regular season, but Canada goose donations were only allowed during the early Canada goose season.
This new opportunity for hunters to donate goose meat is part of a two-year pilot program between the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“In the past couple of years we have heard from many hunters who would like to donate geese taken during the regular season,” said Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand. “We appreciate the Fish and Wildlife Service setting up this pilot program so we can see how well it works.”
North Dakota Community Action Sportsmen Against Hunger program coordinator Sarah Hasbargen said the additional donations accepted during this pilot project will be a much-needed increase to food pantries across the state. “We will accept as much as hunters are able to donate,” Hasbargen said, while mentioning donated goose meat must be received no later than the day after the close of the season.
Provisions for donating goose meat during the regular season are basically the same as for the early Canada goose season. In addition, hunters can also donate meat from geese that were taken during the early season.
Hunters can bring their geese home and clean them prior to delivering meat to a processor, but breast meat brought from home without a wing or head attached to the meat, must be accompanied by written information that includes the hunter’s name, address, signature, hunting license number, date taken and species and number taken.
Hunters may also deliver geese directly from the field to a processor, but identification must remain attached to the bird until in possession of the processor. Since no goose carcasses or feathers are allowed inside processing plants, hunters must be able to ensure proper disposal and clean-up of carcasses.
The list of participating processors is available on the Game and Fish Department website at gf.nd.gov, and at the NDCAP website, www.capnd.org.
Hunters interested in donating are encouraged to call the processor before dropping off geese, to have a clear understanding of how processors will accept goose breasts, and their hours of operation.
The North Dakota Community Action Sportsmen Against Hunger is a charitable program that raises money for processing of donated goose and deer meat, and coordinates distribution of donated meat to food pantries in North Dakota. It is administered by the North Dakota Community Action Partnership, a nonprofit agency that serves low-income families across the state.
SFor more information, visit the NDCAP website, or contact Sarah Hasbargen at 701-232-2452.

 

 

NDGF Legislative Update

View the status of outdoor related legislation here

 

All Deer Gun Licenses Issued

The 49,000 deer gun licenses that were allocated by proclamation for the 2016 hunting season have all been issued, according to Randy Meissner, licensing manager for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

Meissner said according to state law, the number of deer gun licenses issued, including those licenses issued as gratis, cannot exceed the number of licenses authorized by the governor’s proclamation.

The deer gun season opens Friday, Nov. 4 at noon central time.

Archery licenses can still be purchased through the end of the bow season on Jan. 8.

 

Pronghorn Gun Hunting Season Opens Sept. 30

North Dakota’s pronghorn hunters are reminded the gun season opens Sept. 30 at noon Central Time, and continues through Oct. 16.

Hunters with a valid license can use legal firearms or bow equipment, and must stay in the assigned unit.

The 2016 pronghorn hunting season is open in units 1A, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 4A and 4C

 

Wetland Conditions Good for Duck Hunting

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual fall wetland survey indicates good but variable wetland conditions for duck hunting throughout the state.

Migratory game bird biologist Andy Dinges said the northeast region has the highest number of wetlands holding water, while the south central and southeast have also seen improvement from last year’s fall wetland conditions. However, the northwest and north central regions of the state will have the fewest wetlands available for duck hunting opportunities since fall 2012.

“In general, wetland conditions are best in northeast, but other regions in the state have average to slightly below average fall wetland conditions,” Dinges said.

Dinges said this year’s moisture conditions began with fairly dry conditions in May, but were aided by steady precipitation throughout much of the state during mid-summer.

“Drying conditions in some regions should provide good loafing areas for waterfowl and cranes along wetlands, but can make hunting difficult in some cases if there is wide mud margin around wetlands,” Dinges added. 

The quality of waterfowl hunting in North Dakota is largely determined by weather conditions and patterns. Dinges said strong reproduction for ducks in breeding areas both in and outside of North Dakota this year makes for good fall hunting potential.

“Hunters should always scout because of ever changing conditions and distribution of waterfowl,” Dinges said, “and should also be cautious driving off-trail to avoid soft spots, and while encountering areas of tall vegetation that could be a fire hazard.”

The fall wetland survey is conducted mid-September, just prior to the waterfowl hunting season, to provide an assessment of conditions duck hunters can expect. 

 

Remaining Fall Turkey Licenses Available Sept. 27

The 2016 fall wild turkey lottery has been held and more than 850 licenses remain in seven units. Unsuccessful applicants who applied online will have a refund issued directly to their credit card.

Beginning Sept. 27, all remaining licenses will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Hunters are allowed a maximum of 15 licenses for the fall season.

Resident and nonresident hunters will be able to apply online, or print out an application to mail, at the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Paper applications will also be available at license vendors.

The fall turkey season runs from Oct. 8 – Jan. 8, 2017.

Licenses remain for the following units: Unit 03, Benson and Ramsey counties and a portion of Pierce County, 15 licenses; Unit 13, Dunn County, 185; Unit 25, McHenry County and portions of Pierce and Ward counties, 338; Unit 30, a portion of Morton County, 165; Unit 31, Mountrail County, 23; Unit 45, Stark County, 50; and Unit 51, Burke County and portions of Renville, Bottineau and Ward counties, 93.

 

Governor Proclaims Sept. 24 Hunting and Fishing Day

Gov. Jack Dalrymple has signed a proclamation establishing Sept. 24 as Hunting and Fishing Day in North Dakota.

The proclamation references the state’s hunting and fishing traditions, and how hunters and anglers help generate revenue and support conservation through license fees and direct spending.

The Hunting and Fishing Day proclamation is published on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

North Dakota’s Hunting and Fishing Day coincides with National Hunting and Fishing Day, an event held for more than 40 years to highlight the role hunters and anglers play in supporting conservation and scientific wildlife management.

 

Whooping Crane Migration

Whooping cranes are in the midst of their fall migration and sightings will increase as they make their way through North Dakota over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.

Whoopers stand about five feet tall and have a wingspan of about seven feet from tip to tip. They are bright white with black wing tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. In flight they extend their long necks straight forward, while their long, slender legs extend out behind the tail. Whooping cranes typically migrate singly, or in groups of 2-3 birds, and may be associated with sandhill cranes.

Other white birds such as snow geese, swans and egrets are often mistaken for whooping cranes. The most common misidentification is pelicans, because their wingspan is similar and they tuck their pouch in flight, leaving a silhouette similar to a crane when viewed from below.

Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them, but record the date, time, location, and the birds' activity. Observers should also look closely for and report colored bands which may occur on one or both legs. Whooping cranes have been marked with colored leg bands to help determine their identity.

Whooping crane sightings should be reported to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices at Lostwood, 701-848-2466, or Long Lake, 701-387-4397, national wildlife refuges; the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, 701-328-6300, or to local game wardens across the state. Reports help biologists locate important whooping crane habitat areas, monitor marked birds, determine survival and population numbers, and identify times and migration routes. 

 

Schmidt Bottoms Shooting Range Opens

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has reopened its public shooting range at Little Heart (Schmidt) Bottoms on the Oahe Wildlife Management Area in Morton County, following recent completion of road repair work.

The range, 12 miles south of Mandan on ND Highway 1806, is open from sunrise to sunset daily.

If any changes to the status should occur, Game and Fish will notify the public through the media and on its website, www.gf.nd.gov.

 

Game and Fish Summarizes Upland Game Brood Survey

North Dakota’s roadside pheasant survey conducted in late July and August indicates total birds and number of broods are down statewide from 2015.

Aaron Robinson, upland game management supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the survey shows total pheasants are down 10 percent from last year. In addition, brood observations were down 7 percent, while the average brood size was down 8 percent. The final summary is based on 276 survey runs made along 105 brood routes across North Dakota.

“Compared to last year, our late summer roadside counts indicate pheasant hunters are going to have to work harder to find more pheasants in most parts of the state, with fewer young roosters showing up in the fall population,” Robinson said. “As always, there will be local areas within all four pheasant districts where pheasant numbers will be both better and below what is predicted for the district.”

Statistics from southwestern North Dakota indicate total pheasants were down 21 percent and broods observed down 19 percent from 2015. Observers counted 21 broods and 168 birds per 100 survey miles. The average brood size was 5.5.

Results from the southeast show birds are down 4 percent from last year, and the number of broods up 1 percent. Observers counted eight broods and 62 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was 5.0.

Statistics from the northwest indicated pheasants are up 129 percent from last year, with broods up 161 percent. Observers recorded 12 broods and 93 birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 6.1.

The northeast district, generally containing secondary pheasant habitat, with much of it lacking good winter cover, showed two broods and 14 birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 3.9. Number of birds observed remained the same, and the number of broods recorded was up 5 percent.

The 2016 regular pheasant season opens Oct. 8 and continues through Jan. 8, 2017. The two-day youth pheasant hunting weekend, when legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger can hunt statewide, is set for Oct. 1-2.

Sharptails, Huns

North Dakota hunters will find fewer sharp-tailed grouse in the field this fall, while Hungarian partridge numbers are similar to last year.

Robinson said late July and August roadside counts show sharptails are down 23 percent from 2015, while partridge are up 2 percent.

“Sharp-tailed grouse hunting will be slower than last season in most of the state, and all indications are that hunters will see significantly lower numbers in the west,” Robinson said. “In general, grouse hunting will be fair to good. Partridge will be similar to last year, with harvest still considered a bonus while pursuing other game birds.”

Statistics show observers recorded 2.4 sharptail broods and 18.6 birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 4.7.

For partridge, observers recorded 0.8 broods and 11.1 birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 9.6.

The 2016 grouse and partridge seasons open Sept. 10 and continue through Jan. 8, 2017.

 

Game and Fish Allocates Eight Bighorn Sheep Licenses

The State Game and Fish Department is allocating eight bighorn sheep licenses for the 2016 hunting season, based on data collected from a recently completed summer population survey.

Two licenses are available in Unit B1, two in B3 and three in B4. In addition, one license as authorized under North Dakota Century Code was auctioned in March by the Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, from which all proceeds are used to enhance bighorn sheep management in North Dakota.

Game and Fish Department wildlife chief Jeb Williams said the bighorn population hasn’t had any recent setbacks this summer from bacterial pneumonia, which prompted Game and Fish to close the hunting season in 2015.

“There are currently good numbers of mature rams on the landscape, and we are going to take advantage of providing as much hunter opportunity as possible with the situation that we have,” Williams said. “We feel good that we are able to provide this opportunity as impacts from the die-off have lessened substantially since 2014, but it is also very unpredictable.”

Big game biologist Brett Wiedmann said license numbers are determined by assessing the age structure and total number of rams in the population. The July-August survey showed a minimum of 103 rams in the badlands, an increase of 18 percent from 2015.

“Overall, we are very encouraged by the results of the summer survey,” Wiedmann said. “In fact, the ram count was the highest on record.”

Wiedmann said the annual survey results for ewes and lambs would not be completed until next spring. Biologists count and classify all bighorn sheep in late summer, and then recount lambs the following March, as they approach one year of age, to determine recruitment.

Game and Fish announced in February that the status of the bighorn sheep hunting season would be determined after completion of the summer population survey. Now that the survey is complete and total licenses are determined for each unit, the bighorn lottery will run and successful applicants will be contacted to select a hunting unit by Sept. 6.

Prospective hunters were required to apply for a bighorn license earlier this year on the bighorn sheep, moose and elk application. A total of 10,380 people applied for a bighorn sheep license. 

 

Swan Hunt Lottery Held, Licenses Remain

North Dakota’s swan lottery has been held and more than 180 licenses remain. Only hunters who do not have a swan license for the 2016 season can apply, as regulations limit hunters to one license per year.

Beginning Sept. 7, all remaining licenses will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Resident and nonresident hunters will be able to apply online, or print out an application to mail, at the State Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Hunters may also request an application by calling the department’s Bismarck office at 701-328-6300. The license fee is $10 for residents and $30 for nonresidents.

The statewide tundra swan hunting season is Oct. 1 – Jan. 1, 2017.  

 

Secondary Boat Ramp at Beaver Bay, Lake Oahe to Close for Repairs

The Beaver Bay boat ramp located east of Highway 1804 on Lake Oahe will be closed July 11-15 for road repairs and construction.

The main ramp at Beaver Bay will remain open.

 

Spring Breeding Duck Numbers Tallied

 The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual spring breeding duck survey conducted in May showed an index of 3.4 million birds, down 5 percent from last year.

“The spring migration was well ahead of normal as open fields and warm temperatures allowed early migrants to pass quickly through the state,” said migratory game bird supervisor Mike Szymanski.

Survey results indicated all species, except ruddy ducks (up 19 percent) and gadwall (up 4 percent), decreased from their 2015 estimates, while shovelers remained unchanged.

Mallards were down 9 percent, pintails down 17 percent and canvasbacks down 18 percent. However all species, with the exception of pintails and canvasbacks, were above the long-term average (1948-2015).

Szymanski said the number of temporary and seasonal wetlands was substantially lower than last year, with the spring water index down 50 percent. “However, conditions coming out of May into June were much wetter than what we observed during the week of the survey,” Szymanski added. “Frequent rains have since filled many wetlands that are beneficial for breeding ducks.”

The water index is based on basins with water, and does not necessarily represent the amount of water contained in wetlands or the type of wetlands represented. Szymanski said the July brood survey will provide a better idea of duck production and insight into expectations for this fall.

“The total breeding duck index is still in the top 20 all time, so there is still a lot of potential for good production this year,” he added. “Hopefully improved wetland conditions since the May survey will carry through into increased wetland availability for duck broods.”

USFWS Says Moose May Warrant Future Protection

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that a subspecies of moose found in North Dakota and three other states could warrant federal protection. 

The finding opens a full status review by the USFWS to determine whether moose could be listed under the Endangered Species Act. State Game and Fish Department officials emphasize the finding merely initiates a status review of moose in the Upper Midwest, and it will not affect any current state regulations in the foreseeable future.

The announcement concerns the population of the moose subspecies found only in the Midwest, including Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin in addition to North Dakota. Jeb Williams, Game and Fish Department wildlife division chief, said the Department will be providing data to show that the state’s moose population has been doing quite well for years.

Williams mentioned if data on North Dakota's moose population had been considered in the petition's finding, it's possible the state's moose population would have been excluded from the process. “This can be a long and confusing process, but North Dakotans need to understand that nothing will change in the interim and we believe our moose population will continue to do well,” Williams said.

Currently the state’s highest moose densities are found in the northwest, while numbers in what was once considered traditional habitat in the Turtle Mountains and Pembina Hills, remain low. Overall, the statewide population is stable to increasing. North Dakota held its first moose hunting season in 1977 and 10 licenses were made available to hunters.

The season has run uninterrupted since then. For 2016, the Game and Fish Department allocated 202 moose licenses, up 70 from 2015. The Department continues to monitor moose that die from causes other than hunting, to determine any effects of disease and to gain a better understanding of why they died.

In addition, a three-year moose research study is ongoing in the Kenmare area and on the Missouri River bottoms southeast of Williston. The research is focusing on annual survival, cause-specific mortality, reproduction rates, annual and season movements and home range use, as well as seasonal habitat selection.

Williston Angler Snags Record Paddlefish

Grant Werkmeister of Williston snagged a record 131-pound paddlefish on May 7, about 20 miles southwest of Williston near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has confirmed that Werkmeister’s 71-inch paddlefish is the heaviest fish caught in North Dakota, breaking the previous record of 130 pounds set in 2010. North Dakota’s paddlefish snagging season was open May 1-13.

Rainbow Smelt Die-off Occurring in Lake Sakakawea

A fish kill affecting adult rainbow smelt is ongoing in portions of the upper half of Lake Sakakawea, according to Dave Fryda, Missouri River System fisheries supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

Fryda said the cause of the die-off has been documented numerous times in North Dakota in the past. “The vast majority of the dead and dying smelt have physical signs of Columnaris bacteria,” said Fryda, “we’ve recovered infected fish from White Earth Bay downstream to Deepwater Bay and Van Hook Arm.”

Columnaris bacteria are present in all water bodies, and outbreaks typically occur when rapid water temperature changes occur at a time when the fish are stressed, such as after spawning. “The smelt recently spawned in Lake Sakakawea, and were recovering from that stress when we experienced near record-high temperatures last week which boosted the water temperature in the shallow bays where the smelt spawned,” Fryda added.

Smelt affected by Columnaris often develop visible skin irritations that have the appearance of fuzz or mold. Although there is no known cause for concern when in physical contact with these fish, the department suggests to leave the fish alone.

Lake Sakakawea has not had a widespread smelt die-offs since the mid- to late 1980s, a time when the overall smelt population was very high. Fryda said the current smelt population is the highest it’s been for decades, so that is likely part of the reason the bacteria has spread over such a wide area.

The overall significance of this year’s die-off will likely be minimal, however, Fryda said the effects on the population won’t be known until later this summer when fisheries crews assess the adult smelt population. 

Paddlefish Snagging Season to Close Monday

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is closing the state's 2016 regular paddlefish snagging season, effective at 9 p.m. Central Daylight Time, on Monday, May 9. Snaggers are reminded that Sunday and Monday are snag-and-release only.

The 2016-18 fishing proclamation allows for the Game and Fish director to close the snagging season early if it appears the harvest will exceed 1,000 paddlefish.

“Snaggers this year have been extremely successful,” said Greg Power, fisheries chief. “In addition, similar to last year, a high proportion of this year’s harvest has consisted of mostly females, further necessitating an early season closure.”

An additional four-day snag-and-release season will begin Tuesday, May 10 and run through Friday, May 13. Paddlefish snaggers with an unused paddlefish tag can continue snagging during the additional snag-and-release season, but must release all fish immediately. Snaggers who already used their tag on a harvested paddlefish are not allowed to participate in the additional snag-and-release period.

Snag-and-release is legal only in that area of the Missouri River starting on the north shore from the Confluence boat ramp then east (downstream) one-half mile, and that area of the Missouri River starting on the south shore from the Confluence with the Yellowstone River then east (downstream) one-half mile (both areas will have boundary signs).

Paddlefish snagging is allowed only from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (CDT) during each day of the additional four-day season. The use or possession of a gaff on snag-and-release days is illegal.

 

Catchable Trout, Catfish, Pike Stocked

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel recently stocked more than 40 local fisheries with catchable trout, catfish and pike.

Approximately 23,000 11-inch rainbow trout, 800 adult catfish, 750 5-pound pike and 600 1- to 5-pound cutthroat trout were recently stocked in rural and city ponds and lakes.

Fisheries production and development section leader Jerry Weigel said while the state’s fisheries are at historic highs, many are not as easily accessible to youngsters, older adults and disabled anglers.

“These stockings put catchable fish in waters that are accessible,” Weigel said. “Many have fishing piers, and are a great opportunity for a first-time angler to catch fish.”

·         Barnes – Blumers Pond (rainbow), Hatchery Kids Pond (rainbow)

·         Bottineau – Strawberry Lake (rainbow)

·         Bowman – Lutz Dam (rainbow)

·         Burleigh – Cottonwood Park Pond (pike), McDowell Dam (cutthroat, rainbow), OWLS Pond (cutthroat, rainbow)

·         Cass – Casselton Pond (rainbow), North Woodhaven Pond (rainbow)

·         Cavalier – Langdon City Pond (rainbow)

·         Golden Valley – Beach City Pond (rainbow)

·         Grand Forks – Ryan Park Pond (rainbow)

·         Hettinger – Castle Rock Dam (rainbow), Mott Watershed Dam (rainbow)

·         McKenzie – Watford City Park Pond (catfish, rainbow)

·         McLean – Camp Loop Pond (rainbow), Custer Mine (rainbow), Lightning Lake (rainbow), Riverdale City Pond (rainbow)

·         Mercer – Hazen Creek (rainbow)

·         Morton – Gaebe Pond (catfish, rainbow), Krieg’s Pond (catfish, rainbow), Little Heart Pond (rainbow), Nygren Dam (rainbow), Porsborg Dam (cutthroat, rainbow)

·         Mountrail – Stanley Pond (catfish, rainbow)

·         Oliver – Oliver County Sportsmen’s Pond (rainbow)

·         Ransom – Mooringstone Pond (rainbow)

·         Renville – Glenburn Pond (rainbow)

·         Rolette – Lake Udall (rainbow)

·         Stark – Belfield Pond (catfish, rainbow), Dickinson Dike (catfish, cutthroat)

·         Stutsman – Little Britches Pond (rainbow), Streeter Lake (rainbow)

·         Grand Forks -- Turtle River (rainbow)

·         Ward – State Fair Pond (rainbow), Velva Sportsmen’s Pond (rainbow)

·         Williams – East Spring Lake Pond (pike), Kettle Lake (rainbow), West Spring Lake Pond (catfish, rainbow)

In addition, rainbow trout were also stocked into larger waters. Anglers should refer to the fishing tab at the Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov, for a complete stocking report.

 

Moose and Elk Lotteries Held, Bighorn Sheep in September

North Dakota’s moose and elk lottery results are available online at the State Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

Applicants can find individual results by clicking “find lottery results/preference points” under the buy and apply link.

Successful applicants will receive a letter the week of May 2, stating the license will be mailed after the successful applicant submits the correct license fee.

The bighorn sheep lottery is scheduled in September, after summer population surveys are completed and total licenses are determined. Once the lottery is held, successful applicants will be contacted to select a hunting unit.

 

2016-18 Fishing Regulations Set, New License Required

North Dakota’s 2016-18 fishing proclamation is set, with regulations effective April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2018. Anglers are reminded that new fishing licenses are required April 1.

Noteworthy regulation changes include:

  • A free fishing weekend was added for North Dakota residents during the ice fishing season. In the coming winter, the free weekend will be held Dec. 31 – Jan. 1, 2017.
  • The statewide possession limit for bluegill, yellow perch and white bass was reduced from 80 to 40 each.
  • All drain plugs that hold back water must be removed, and all draining devices must be open on all watercraft and recreational bilges and confined spaces, during out-of-water transport.
  • All water must be completely drained from bait containers, including bait buckets, upon leaving the Red River, or any other waters designated as infested with Class 1 prohibited aquatic nuisance species.
  • Sweet Briar Dam and Braun Lake are open to darkhouse spearfishing, and Larimore Dam and Wood Lake are closed to darkhouse spearfishing.
  • Markers must be in the possession of anglers and/or spearers as soon as a hole greater than 10 inches in diameter is made in the ice.
  • Largemouth bass and northern pike length restrictions are eliminated on Red Willow Lake and largemouth bass length restrictions removed on North and South Golden lakes.
  • Fishing rods must be easily visible and within a maximum distance of 150 feet of participating anglers.
  • One snapping turtle may be harvested annually between July 1 and Nov. 15.

Fishing licenses can be purchased using a computer or smartphone by visiting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, or at license vendors that are linked to the department’s online licensing system. Since participating vendors will need to sell licenses electronically, paper license booklets are no longer available at license vendors.

Not all vendors that sold licenses in the past will still sell licenses. A list of vendors participating in electronic licensing sales is available on the department’s website.  Vendors on the list as of April 1 will be linked to the department’s online licensing system.

Licenses may also be purchased by calling the department’s instant licensing telephone number at 800-406-6409 any time day or night. A service charge is added for licenses purchased through the instant licensing telephone number.

 

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