Tag Archives: news

Waterfowl Production Area’s are now open

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North Dakota’s waterfowl production areas will be open to hunting on the pheasant opener after all.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday afternoon rescinded its closure of WPAs to public access, including hunting and fishing, effective immediately.

That means the WPAs in North Dakota will be available to hunters for the state’s pheasant opener on Saturday, Oct. 12.

“The waterfowl production areas are important public lands for hunters,” said North Dakota Game and Fish Department Director Terry Steinwand. “We have been working hard all week toward the goal of having these areas back open by the pheasant opener, and we appreciate Service Director Dan Ashe’s reconsideration of their closure action.”

The WPAs and national wildlife refuges in North Dakota and other states were closed to public access on Oct. 1 as a result of the federal government shutdown. National wildlife refuges in North Dakota remain closed, however, as today’s action by the Fish and Wildlife Service only affects WPAs.

 

2013 mountain lion quota zone update

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1 cat taken so far in the quota zone for the 2013 North Dakota mountain lion season. More details here:

http://gf.nd.gov/hunting/furbearers/mountain-lions

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 turkey lottery has been held

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The 2013 fall wild turkey lottery has been held and more than 930 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. 12 – Jan. 5, 2014.

 

Licenses remain for the following units: Unit 03, Benson and Ramsey counties and a portion of Pierce County, 40 licenses; Unit 13, Dunn County, 181; Unit 25, McHenry County and portions of Pierce and Ward counties, 335; Unit 30, a portion of Morton County, 92; Unit 31, Mountrail County, 35; Unit 45, Stark County, 97; and Unit 51, Burke County and portions of Renville, Bottineau and Ward counties, 153.

second deer lottery has been held

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North Dakota’s second deer lottery has been held and individual results are available on the State Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov.

 

While slightly more than 1,000 antlerless deer licenses were still available after the second lottery, all of them are in units 3F1, 3F2 and 4F in the southwestern part of the state, where Game and Fish is receiving ongoing reports of white-tailed deer mortality caused by epizootic hemorrhagic disease.

 

As such, Game and Fish administration has decided to not issue those remaining licenses. “The decision is based on previous years’ experience where moderate to significant white-tailed deer losses were documented in situations similar to this year,” said wildlife chief Randy Kreil.

 

In addition, Kreil said the likelihood of an extended fall, and possible continuation of EHD losses was also a factor in the decision. “While we first received reports of isolated deer deaths in August, loss of deer to this disease appears to have extended into September, and depending on the weather, may continue into October,” Kreil added, noting that the area of reported white-tailed deer deaths to EHD covers Bowman to Bismarck.

 

In 2011, deer deaths from EHD occurred well into October, and prompted Game and Fish to offer refunds to license holders in several southwestern units. Kreil said it’s too early to tell whether this year’s EHD episode is significant enough to warrant a similar action, and the agency will wait until after opening weekend of pheasant season to determine whether refunds would be an option. “In the past,” Kreil added, “it has been helpful to gauge the scope and intensity of an EHD situation when there are thousands of hunters in the field in EHD areas, who might observe dead deer along waterways.”

 

EHD, a naturally occurring virus that is spread by a biting midge, is almost always fatal to infected white-tailed deer, while mule deer do not usually die from the disease. Hunters do not have to worry about handling or consuming meat from infected deer because the virus that causes EHD is not known to cause disease in humans. In addition, the first hard freeze typically kills the midge that carries and transfers the EHD virus which will slow or halt the spread of the disease.

be on the look out for blue-green algae

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department advises hunters to be cautious with their dogs around water this time of year, due to potential health hazards associated with blue-green algae.

Dr. Dan Grove, wildlife veterinarian for the Game and Fish Department, said late summer and early fall offer prime conditions for blue-green algae growth in many state waters. Ingestion by a hunting dog while perhaps retrieving a bird during the early goose season, or just practicing retrieving, can lead to severe illness and potential death.

“Conditions are right this year for stagnant water to become contaminated, especially with all of the rainfall that has occurred,” Grove said.

 

 

Potentially toxic algae blooms occur under conditions of hot, dry weather. Shallow, stagnant water with moderate to high nutrient content provides an optimum environment for algal growth. Water or wind movements often concentrate the algae, and eventually the bloom appears as a blue-green “scum” floating on the water’s surface. The threat disappears once the weather turns colder.

“Hunting dogs shouldn’t drink or swim in discolored water or where algal blooms are apparent,” Grove said. “If dogs retrieve in these conditions, they should be rinsed off immediately and shouldn’t be allowed to lick their coat.”

For additional information about the effects of blue-green algae blooms on hunting dogs, contact the Animal Health Division, North Dakota Department of Agriculture, at (701) 328-2655; or a local veterinarian.

2013 pheasant numbers down 30%

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North Dakota’s roadside pheasant survey conducted in late July and August indicates total birds, number of broods and average brood size are all down statewide from 2012.

 

Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the survey shows total pheasants are down 30 percent from last year. In addition, brood observations were down 29 percent, and the average brood size was down 10 percent. The final summary is based on 253 survey runs made along 101 brood routes across North Dakota.

 

“Poor production this spring resulted in fewer young birds added to the population and a lower fall population in all areas of the state,” Kohn said.

 

Noteworthy factors cited for the decrease in brood numbers, according to Kohn, were continued land use changes in the prime pheasant range, including removal of Conservation Reserve Program acres, grasslands converted to croplands and small grain fields converted to row crops; and continuous wet spring weather.

 

“Earlier this summer we thought it was possible that nesting season was delayed enough to avoid an influence from the cold, wet spring,” Kohn said, “but it now appears that wasn’t the case.”

 

Kohn said even though statistics reveal bird numbers are down statewide, there willstill be local areas with good pheasant populations.

 

Statistics from southwestern North Dakota indicate the number of birds observed was down 25 percent from 2012, and the number of broods was down 22 percent. Observers counted 15 broods and 126 birds per 100 survey miles. The average brood size was 5.8.

 

Results from the southeast show birds are down 43 percent from last year, and the number of broods down 42 percent. Observers counted five broods and 49 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was 5.9.

 

Statistics from the northwest indicated pheasants are down 39 percent from last year, with broods down 32 percent. Observers recorded six broods and 48 birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 5.5.

 

The northeast district, generally containing secondary pheasant habitat with much of it lacking good winter cover, showed one brood and seven birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 4.7. Number of birds observed was down 35 percent, and the number of broods recorded was down 33 percent.

 

The 2013 regular pheasant season opens Oct. 12 and continues through Jan. 5, 2014. The two-day youth pheasant hunting weekend, when legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger can hunt statewide, is set for Oct. 5-6.

 

Possible land transfer concerns ND Game and Fish-Doug Leier

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Officials at the State Game and Fish Department are concerned that a potential transfer of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land around Lake Sakakawea would include thousands of acres of public land managed for fish, wildlife and recreation, and would jeopardize free access to numerous boat ramps within the middle third of the reservoir.

 

 

 

Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand says the Corps is apparently reconsidering a 2004 request to transfer all Corps land above 1,854 feet mean sea level within the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, to be held in trust for the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation.

 

 

 

The Game and Fish Department leases from the Corps and manages for wildlife approximately 7,000acres within the proposed area, including Van Hook and Deepwater Creek wildlife management areas. In addition, more than 29,000 acres of Corps land that is currently open to public hunting and fishing could also be transferred.

 

 

 

“Our major concern about this development,” Steinwand said, “is the loss of public land for hunters and anglers, which is currently managed by the Game and Fish Department and the Corps of Engineers.”

 

 

 

Over several decades since Game and Fish began leasing Corps land around Lake Sakakawea for wildlife management purposes, Steinwand said the agency has invested more than a million dollars in sportsmen’s money in portions of those areas that would be included in a land transfer. While Game and Fish would retain leases and public access on land below 1,854 msl, Steinwand added that access to those remaining areas could become more difficult.

 

 

 

“This is a critical issue for hunters and anglers in the state,” Steinwand said. “It’s important that the Corps considers further public input before making a decision on any potential land transfer.”

No paddlefish lottery for 2014

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has decided to wait at least a year before developing a lottery to issue tags for the paddlefish snagging season.

While legislation passed in 2013 allows the Department to use a lottery system to issue paddlefish tags if and when needed, Game and Fish Department fisheries chief Greg Power said that after full review of the 2013 paddlefish season, and considering ongoing research on the paddlefish population, biologists have determined that a lottery is not necessary in 2014.

“However, this ongoing paddlefish population assessment may still result in a number of changes to the 2014 paddlefish season,” Power said. “If there are pending regulation changes, we will solicit public input later this fall, including at Game and Fish advisory board meetings.”

Since the first snagging season was authorized in 1976, Power said Game and Fish has managed paddlefish snagging on the upper Missouri and Yellowstone rivers by allowing an unlimited number of participants. Because of growing interest and participation by snaggers, coupled with a declining paddlefish population, Game and Fish established an annual harvest cap to limit the harvest.

The first cap, set in 1996 with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, was 1,500 fish per year in each state. The two agencies reduced the cap to 1,000 fish per year in each state in 2003.

North Dakota fishing license sales at record levels

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Years of rising water, a record number of fishing lakes and aggressive fish management in North Dakota have helped produce record fishing license sales.

State Game and Fish Department fisheries chief Greg Power said in 2012-13 virtually every license category established a record high, or at the least had a substantial increase. “Even more impressive is this was spread throughout the state, and not just in the rapidly growing counties of western North Dakota,” Power said.

Statistics compiled by the Game and Fish Department revealed more than 218,000 fishing licenses were sold last year, 20 percent higher than the previous record set in 1982. A total of 159,500 resident fishing licenses were sold last year, also breaking the record set 30 years ago. In addition, nearly 59,000 nonresident fishing licenses were purchased last year, easily surpassing the previous high set two years ago.

“North Dakota remains near the top in the country in terms of per capita residents who fish,” Power said.

In terms of actual individuals participating in fishing, the past year was again record-setting with more than 200,000 active anglers and about 2 million days of fishing. Both open water and ice fishing activity experienced substantial increases. Lake Sakakawea, Devils Lake and Lake Oahe/Missouri River remained the top three fisheries in the state