State Wildlife Action Plan Open for Comment

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North Dakota’s initial State Wildlife Action Plan from 2005 has been updated and is available for public comment by visiting the State Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

The primary focus of the current strategy is to address North Dakota’s 100 Species of Conservation Priority, developed a decade ago as the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy.

“We identified our state’s species of conservation priority, and implemented conservation measures to help keep them from becoming listed under the Endangered Species Act,” said Steve Dyke, Game and Fish Department’s conservation supervisor. “And in order to receive state wildlife grant funds, we are mandated to update the plan every 10 years.”

Public comments are being accepted through June 8.

SWAP is a collaborative effort by Game and Fish staff, species experts, partner conservation groups, and state, federal and local agencies from North Dakota.

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Doug Leier

first fish!

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is reminding parents to capture their little angler’s first catch on a specially designed First Fish certificate.

First Fish has no qualifying weights or measurements. The only requirement is the successful landing of a North Dakota fish. Certificates are available to all who request them, and have ample room for all the important information, such as name, age, lake and a short fish story, plus a blank space for a photograph big enough to contain the smile of the happiest little angler.

Free certificates are available by contacting the Game and Fish Department at ndgf.

legal live baitfish reminder

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Anglers are reminded that fathead minnows, sticklebacks, and creek chubs are the only legal live baitfish species that can be used in most North Dakota waters.

The only exceptions are the Red and Bois de Sioux rivers where white suckers are allowed, and 23 state waters where it is illegal to use any live baitfish.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries chief Greg Power said for years the department has worked with the wholesale and retail bait industry to help ensure anglers are buying clean and legal minnows at their local bait shops.

“While today’s bait is much cleaner than what may have been purchased years ago, it remains the angler’s responsibility to possess only legal live baitfish when fishing in North Dakota,” Power said.

For specific regulations regarding bait use and all other fishing regulations, refer to the 2014-16 North Dakota Fishing Guide.

2015 paddlefish snagging season CLOSING

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department announced today that the state’s 2015 regular paddlefish snagging season will close at 10 p.m. Central Daylight Time, Monday, May 11, to protect the population level of the fish. Snaggers are reminded that Monday is a snag-and-release only day.

The 2014-16 fishing proclamation allows for the Game and Fish director to close the snagging season early if it appears more than 1,000 paddlefish will be harvested. In addition, according to Greg Power, Fisheries chief, a record high proportion of the 2015 paddlefish harvest has consisted of mostly females, further necessitating an early season closure.

An additional four-day snag-and-release season will begin Tuesday, May 12 and run through Friday, May 15. 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.

have you seen?

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This week’s North Dakota Game and Fish Department webcast, Outdoors Online, is now online at http://gf.nd.gov. North Dakota Game and Fish district fisheries supervisor Paul Bailey talks about handling and releasing fish. Click here to Watch! Don’t forget to visit the fishing portal of the Game and Fish Department website for more fishing and boating information including contour maps, stocking reports, access and more. Click here or here: http://gf.nd.gov/fishing

2015 paddlefish update

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The 2015 North Dakota paddlefish snagging season opened May 1 and the season is scheduled to continue through the end of May. However, depending on the overall harvest, an early in-season closure may occur with a 24-hour notice issued by the state Game and Fish Department.

As the mandatory snag and keep day’s begin again Friday May 8 and Saturday, May 9, the Game and Fish Department estimates the current harvest at 427. We’ll update the numbers when they are available over the weekend. Here’s more details and also click here:

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Paddlefish tags are available over-the-counter-only in Bismarck at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s main office; in Williston at the Williams County auditor’s office, Scenic Sports and Wal-Mart; and in Dickinson at Runnings Farm and Fleet.

Snaggers should be aware that mandatory harvest of all snagged paddlefish is required on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On these days, all paddlefish caught must be tagged immediately.

All paddlefish snagged and tagged must be removed from the river by 9 p.m. of each snagging day. The use or possession of a gaff hook within one-half mile in either direction of the Highway 200 bridge on the Yellowstone River is illegal at any time during the snagging season.

Snag-and-release of all paddlefish is required on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays. Those planning to participate during snag-and-release-only days need to have in their possession a current season, unused paddlefish snagging tag. Use or possession of gaffs is prohibited on snag-and-release-only days, and, if it occurs, during the snag-and-release extension period.

Legal snagging hours are from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. One tag per snagger will be issued. Snagging is legal in all areas of the Yellowstone River in North Dakota, and in the area of the Missouri River lying west of the U.S. Highway 85 bridge to the Montana border, excluding that portion from the pipeline crossing (river mile 1,577) downstream to the upper end of the Lewis and Clark Wildlife Management Area (river mile 1,565).

If the season closes early because the harvest quota is reached, an extended snag-and-release-only period will be allowed for up to four days immediately following the early closure, but not to extend beyond May 31. Only snaggers with a current season, unused paddlefish snagging tag are eligible to participate. Only a limited area at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers is open to this extended season snagging opportunity.

All paddlefish snaggers must possess a paddlefish tag in addition to a valid fishing license and certificate that may be required. Cost of a paddlefish tag is $10 for residents and $25.50 for nonresidents.

Addresses and phone numbers of vendors selling tags:

Bismarck Game and Fish Office

100 N. Bismarck Expressway

Bismarck, ND 58501

701-328-6300

Williams County

Williams County Auditor

PO Box 2047

Williston, ND 58802

701-577-4500

Scenic Sports

1201 East Broadway

Williston, ND 58801

701-572-8696

Wal-Mart, Inc.

4001 2nd Avenue West

Williston, ND 58801

701-572-8550

Runnings Farm and Fleet

2003 3rd Avenue West

Dickinson, ND 58601

701-483-1226

2015 North Dakota deer season

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North Dakota’s 2015 deer season is set, with 43,275 licenses available to hunters this fall, 4,725 fewer than last year, and the lowest number since 1978.

Jeb Williams, wildlife chief for the State Game and Fish Department, said deer populations remain well below management objectives in most units, and continuing a conservative management approach is needed to help with recovery efforts.

Any-antlerless (down 2,650 from last year) and any-antlered (down 1,150) licenses make up the majority of the reduction, while antlerless whitetail (down 800) and antlered whitetail (down 650) account for the remainder.

On a positive note, Williams said the mule deer population in the badlands increased for the third consecutive year, with numbers showing the spring mule deer index is up 24 percent from last year.

However, as was the case the past four years, there are no antlerless mule deer licenses available in units 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F. This applies to regular gun, resident and nonresident any-deer bow, gratis and youth licenses.

The number of licenses available for 2015 includes 1,875 for antlered mule deer, an increase of 525 from last year; 828 for muzzleloader, down 104 from last year; and 187 restricted youth antlered mule deer, an increase of 53 from last year.

North Dakota’s 2015 deer gun season opens Nov. 6 at noon and continues through Nov. 22. Online applications for regular deer gun, youth, muzzleloader, and resident gratis and nonresident landowner licenses are available through the Game and Fish Department’s website at gf.nd.gov. Also, paper applications will be at vendors throughout the state by mid-May. The deadline for applying is June 3.

State law requires residents age 18 or older to prove residency on the application by submitting a valid North Dakota driver’s license number or a North Dakota nondriver photo identification number. Applications cannot be processed without this information.

Gratis applications received on or before the regular deer gun lottery application deadline (June 3) will be issued an any-legal-deer license. As per state law, applications received after the deadline will be issued based on licenses remaining after the lottery – generally only antlerless licenses remain.

Total deer licenses are determined by harvest rates, aerial surveys, depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board meetings, and comments from the public, landowners and department field staff.

2015 North Dakota Outdoors Legislation

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department tracked 23 outdoors-related bills during the 2015 legislative session, 12 of which were passed by both chambers and signed into law. The following bills take effect this year, unless otherwise noted.

House Bill 1081 – Makes available to the Outdoor Adventure Foundation up to two spring turkey, one any-elk, one any-moose, seven deer and two pronghorn licenses for youth who have been diagnosed with cancer or a life-threatening illness. In addition, provides for a study, during the 2015-16 interim, of North Dakota Game and Fish Department licenses provided to entities for the purpose of fundraising.

HB 1156 – Beginning in 2016, allows an unsuccessful applicant in the deer gun lottery to donate the refund to the Game and Fish Department’s Private Land Open to Sportsmen program.

HB 1158 – Effective April 1, 2016, county auditors will no longer be responsible for allocating and tracking hunting and fishing license sales within their respective counties. That responsibility will become the Game and Fish Department’s. A county auditor upon request, may continue to sell hunting and fishing licenses.

HB 1197 – Prohibits a government agency from providing funds to a nonprofit organization for the purpose of holding any interest in real property or an easement for wildlife or conservation purposes. However, does not apply to a state government agency in partnership with a nonprofit organization if the state agency also benefits.

HB 1241 – Makes a short-barreled rifle legal for hunting.

HB 1356 – This bill clarifies Century Code language pertaining to wildlife depredation. Allows the Game and Fish Director to authorize individual landowners to carry out certain hazing practices to help alleviate or prevent wildlife depredation to livestock forage supplies.

HB 1381 – Prohibits a drone from being used to intentionally harass hunters and anglers.

HB 1409 – Provides direction on finances provided through the Outdoor Heritage Fund, with $20 million available in a fiscal year and $40 million for the biennium.

HB 1456 – Encourages Congress to pass federal legislation to return uplands of the Oahe Reservoir in Emmons and Morton counties above 1,620 feet mean sea level to the state of North Dakota.

Senate Bill 2017 – Appropriates $77,231,739 to the Game and Fish Department for the 2015-17 biennium. In addition, provides for one elk license available for raffle to Annie’s House at Bottineau Winter Park.

SB 2077 – Regulates criminal history record checks for Game and Fish volunteers and final applicants for employment.

SB 2093 – Guide and outfitter licenses expire March 31 if issued afterMarch 31 of the previous year.

2015 North Dakota game warden exam

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has scheduled an examination to select candidates for the position of district game warden. The test is at 10 a.m., July 17, at the department’s main office in Bismarck.

Applicants must register to take the exam no later than July 13, by submitting an online application through the North Dakota State Job Openings website.

Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and have a bachelor’s degree. Other requirements are a current North Dakota peace officer license, or eligibility for a license, and a valid driver’s license. Candidates must have excellent interpersonal skills in communications and writing, and must not have a record of any felony convictions.

Game wardens enforce game and fish laws and related regulations in an assigned district and other locations as determined by the department. Wardens normally work alone under varied conditions, at all hours of the day, night and weekends. In addition to law enforcement duties, wardens assist in the areas of public relations, education programs, and hunter and boat safety education.

Selection procedures following the test may include an evaluation of the application, a structured oral interview, background and reference checks, and psychological and medical examinations.

The salary for beginning game wardens through training is $3,500 per month. Upon successful completion of training, the salary is $4,016 – $6,693 per month. Wardens also receive the state benefits package, including travel allowance. Uniforms and other equipment are provided.

moose & elk lotteries for 2015

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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 theonline services link.

Successful applicants will receive a letter the week of May 11, stating the license will be mailed after the successful applicant submits the correct license fee.

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