Tag Archives: bighorn sheep

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 wildlife division chief Jeb Williams explains why there will be no Bighorn Sheep season this year and then gives a preview of the Moose and Elk seasons.   Click here to Watch!  And to read more in depth information about bighorn sheep in North Dakota click here as well.

more on bighorn sheep

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The February issue of North Dakota Outdoors magazine  has a review of the 2014 year from the Enforcement Division.  Game and Fish wildlife division chief Jeb Williams explains the latest on the North Dakota bighorn sheep population and the considerations for closing the 2015 season. Plus a look at the Devils Lake walleye population. Check these stories and more for free in the full February issue  available right here: or here

http://gf.nd.gov/publications

2014 moose elk and bighorn sheep harvest stats

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Harvest statistics released by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department show overall hunter success during the 2014 season for bighorn sheep was 100 percent, 88 percent for moose and 67 percent for elk.

The department issued four bighorn sheep licenses and auctioned one. All five hunters harvested a bighorn ram.

The department issued 110 moose licenses last year. Of that total, 106 hunters harvested 93 animals – 82 bulls and 11 cows/calves. One additional license was raffled by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the hunter was successful in harvesting a moose. Harvest for each unit follows:

Unit Hunters Bulls Cow/Calf Success Rate
M5 5 3 0 60
M6 14 1 7 57
M8 14 12 1 93
M9 24 21 3 100
M10 49 45 0 92

 

The department issued 274 elk licenses last year. Of that total, 249 hunters harvested 166 elk – 97 bulls and 69 cows/calves. One additional license was raffled by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the hunter was successful in harvesting an elk.  Harvest for each unit follows:

Unit Hunters Bulls Cow/Calf Success Rate
E1 61 12 17 48
E2 117 37 49 74
E3 48 32 3 73
E4 23 16 0 70

 

2014 bighorn sheep population survey

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Results from this summer’s bighorn sheep survey indicate the population in western North Dakota is lower than last year.

State Game and Fish Department big game biologist Brett Wiedmann said the July-August survey showed a minimum of 287 bighorn sheep, down 4 percent from 2013. Results revealed 82 rams, 153 ewes and 52 lambs.

Due to an ongoing disease event in the northern badlands, Game and Fish biologists have verified more than 20 bighorn sheep deaths over the summer. Wiedmann said the survey is a tale of two segments of the state’s population. “The four herds in the northern badlands not affected by the die-off increased 28 percent from last year, with the lamb count increasing 46 percent,” Wiedmann said. “However, the eight herds impacted by disease declined 25 percent, with the lamb count declining by 66 percent.”

Although population levels were down markedly in portions of the northern badlands, biologists were pleased to see a slight increase in the southern badlands.

The department’s survey does not include approximately 40 bighorn sheep that live in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Game and Fish wildlife veterinarian Dan Grove said only time will tell how severe the die-off will be. “Mortalities so far have been significant but not yet catastrophic,” Grove said. “However, the outbreak is ongoing, and we have detected a virulent strain of bacteria from biological samples collected from dead bighorns. Consequently, impacts will be more apparent when females and lambs are recounted next March, but the full extent of the outbreak likely will not be realized until the 2015 survey is completed.”

Each summer, Game and Fish Department biologists count and classify all bighorn sheep, a process that takes nearly six weeks to complete as biologists locate each bighorn herd in the badlands by tracking radio-marked animals from an airplane, and then hike into each group to record demographic data using a spotting scope and binoculars. Biologists then complete the annual survey by recounting lambs in March to determine lamb recruitment, or lambs that survive the first winter.

 

big three lottery has been held

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North Dakota’s moose, elk and bighorn sheep 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 online services link.

 

Successful applicants will receive a letter the week of May 19, stating the license will be mailed after the successful applicant submits the correct license fee.

 

good news on bighorn sheep

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual bighorn sheep survey revealed a minimum of 293 bighorn sheep in western North Dakota, virtually unchanged from the previous count of 297.

In total, biologists counted 85 rams, 159 ewes and 49 lambs. Not included are 24 bighorn sheep introduced from Alberta in February, and approximately 30 bighorns in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Big game biologist Brett Wiedmann said the count in the northern badlands was the highest on record, beating the previous record set in 2012, but the southern badlands population declined 15 percent.

“Rams and lambs showed a slight decline, but adult ewes increased,” Wiedmann said. “About 75 percent of lambs counted during last summer’s survey survived the winter, which is about average, but the recruitment rate of 37 percent was above average.”

Game and Fish Department 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.

Wiedmann is encouraged by another year of healthy numbers of lambs because it is indicative of a healthy population. “Adult mortality was also low last winter, so we expect another good crop of lambs to begin hitting the ground within a few weeks,” he said.

Game and Fish allocated five bighorn sheep hunting licenses for 2014, one more than 2013.

2013 North Dakota big three success rates

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2013 Bighorn Sheep, Moose and Elk Harvests

Harvest statistics released by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department show overall hunter success during the 2013 season for bighorn sheep was 100 percent, 91 percent for moose and 50 percent for elk.

The department issued three bighorn sheep licenses and auctioned one. All four hunters harvested a bighorn ram.

The department issued 111 moose licenses last year. Of that total, 111 hunters harvested 101 animals – 85 bulls and 16 cows/calves. One additional license was raffled by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the hunter was successful in harvesting a moose. Harvest for each unit follows:

Unit

Hunters

Bulls

Cow/Calf

Success Rate

M5

5

1

4

100

M6

15

4

6

67

M8

15

14

1

100

M9

25

22

2

96

M10

51

44

3

92

 

The department issued 271 elk licenses last year. Of that total, 255 hunters harvested 127 elk – 77 bulls and 50 cows/calves. One additional license was raffled by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the hunter was successful in harvesting an elk. Harvest for each unit follows:

Unit

Hunters

Bulls

Cow/Calf

Success Rate

E1

68

11

19

44

E2

116

29

27

48

E3

47

25

3

60

E4

24

12

1

54

 

2013 bighorn sheep survey

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Even though results from this summer’s survey indicated the bighorn sheep population in western North Dakota remains steady, State Game and Fish Department biologists are concerned about a significant decline in the number of adult rams.

 

Brett Wiedmann, big game biologist in Dickinson, said the July-August survey showed a minimum of 299 bighorn sheep, unchanged from last year and only 17 percent below 2008’s record summer survey.

 

“Although the female segment of the population remained stable, we are concerned about another substantial decline in the number of rams, which was 11 percent below last year and 21 percent below the record observed in 2009,” Wiedmann said. “Annual survival of adult rams is typically very high, so we need to figure out why our ram population is continuing to decline despite reductions in hunting licenses.”

 

Survey results revealed 79 rams, 155 ewes and 65 lambs – a record 258 in the northern badlands (an increase of seven from last year’s record) and 41 in the southern badlands (down seven). “Bighorn sheep numbers increased again in the northern badlands but continue to struggle south of the Interstate,” Wiedmann said, while noting that a record 64 lambs were observed in the north, but only one in the south. “However, despite poor results in the southern badlands, the total number of lambs observed this summer surpassed the previous record of 60 in 2008.”

 

The department’s survey does not include approximately 30 bighorn sheep that inhabit the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

 

Annual bighorn sheep survey statistics are not recorded using a calendar year, but instead are done over a 12-month period beginning each April and ending the following March. Each summer, Game and Fish Department biologists count and classify all bighorn sheep, a process that takes nearly six weeks to complete as biologists locate each bighorn herd in the badlands by tracking radio-marked animals from an airplane, and then hike into each group to record demographic data using a spotting scope and binoculars. Biologists then complete the annual survey by recounting lambs in March to determine lamb recruitment, or lambs that survive the first winter.

 

North Dakota’s bighorn sheep hunting season opens Oct. 25 and continues through Nov. 7. Game and Fish issued four licenses this year, the same as in 2012.

2013 bighorn sheep numbers

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual bighorn sheep survey revealed a minimum of 297 bighorn sheep in western North Dakota. The 2012 count was second highest on record and 5 percent above last year’s survey.

In total, biologists counted 87 rams, 156 ewes and a record 54 lambs. Not included are approximately 30 bighorn sheep in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Big game biologist Brett Wiedmann said the northern badlands population was the highest on record, but the southern badlands herds declined slightly.

“Although adult rams and ewes were virtually unchanged from 2011, we were very pleased to see a record number of lambs recruited into the population, as well as a record recruitment rate of 38 percent,” Wiedmann said. “Nearly all of the lambs we counted during last summer’s survey survived the winter.”

Game and Fish Department biologists count and classify all bighorn sheep in late summer and then recount lambs the following March to determine recruitment.

A bumper crop of lambs is indicative of a healthy population, so Wiedmann is encouraged with the results of this year’s survey. However, Wiedmann added that this year’s healthy lamb numbers likely won’t be reflected in increased hunting licenses for several years, as the total number of rams remains much lower than it was in 2008, and the current age structure of rams is also much younger than what Game and Fish biologists would like to see.

“Consequently, we’ll likely have to continue to be conservative with hunting pressure for a few years, but the future certainly looks promising,” Wiedmann said. “Adult mortality was also low last winter, so we expect another good crop of lambs to begin hitting the ground within a couple of weeks.”

Game and Fish has issued four bighorn sheep licenses for 2013, the same as 2012.

it’s a record!

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North Dakota’s 2013 bighorn sheep auction license sold for a record $75,000 at the March 23 Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation annual meeting in Bloomington, Minn. The previous high of $50,000 was set in 2007.

In addition, a 5 percent conservation fee for all auction licenses generated an additional $3,750 from the sale of North Dakota’s license.

North Dakota’s auction license allows the winning bidder the rare privilege of pursuing a North Dakota bighorn on a self-guided hunt.

One hundred percent of the auction license proceeds are used to enhance bighorn sheep management in North Dakota. Since 1986, more than $1 million has been raised for wild sheep conservation through the sale of the license.