Tag Archives: news

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

camping restrictions lifted for holiday

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In recognition of the Fourth of July celebration, outdoor recreationists can set up campTuesday and Wednesday, July 2-3 on some wildlife management areas that typically prohibit overnight camping those two days of the week.


This waiver applies to the following WMAs in western North Dakota and along Lake Sakakawea: North Lemmon Lake in Adams County; Bull Creek in Billings County; Alkali Creek and Spring Creek in Bowman County; Smishek Lake and Short Creek Dam in Burke County; Harris M. Baukol in Divide County; Killdeer Mountains in Dunn County; Camels Hump Lake in Golden Valley County; Indian Creek in Hettinger County; Audubon, Custer Mine, Deepwater Creek, deTrobriand, Douglas Creek and Wolf Creek in McLean County; Beaver Creek and Hille in Mercer County; Storm Creek in Morton County; Cedar Lake and Speck Davis Pond in Slope County; and McGregor Dam in Williams County.


However, regardless of the holiday, camping is still prohibited every day of the week at the following WMAs: Antelope Creek, Lewis and Clark, Big Oxbow, Ochs Point, Neu’s Point, Overlook, Sullivan and Tobacco Garden in McKenzie County; Van Hook in Mountrail County; and Hofflund and Trenton in Williams County.


Camping restrictions at all WMAs are posted at entry points.


Outdoor recreationists also are reminded that fireworks on state wildlife management areas are prohibited.


Other WMA use regulations are available on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

2013 Fall turkeys applications are NOT out and NOT due July 5

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is moving the 2013 fall turkey license application deadline, originally set for July 3, to August this year to allow for a better assessment of the fall turkey population before determining license numbers.

The official date for the application deadline has not yet been determined.

Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor, said the change will allow more opportunities for hunters. “Our fall turkey numbers are a lot more precise when we can use data from late spring and early summer before we have to finalize the proclamation,” Kohn said. “Now we can thoroughly assess brood production, which has a direct influence on the fall population.”

For years, the fall turkey proclamation was finalized in late May, with applications out in early June and the deadline for applying early July. Game and Fish made the decision to change the fall turkey process this spring, after a tentative application deadline of July 3 was publicized in news releases, online, and in the North Dakota Outdoors magazine annual calendar.

Game and Fish licensing manager Randy Meissner said moving the application process into August will not cause any issues for applicants, as successful hunters will be notified well in advance of opening day. “Hunters should expect licenses in September, and the season doesn’t open until mid-October,” he said.

Prospective applicants should check the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov in August for more information on the fall turkey license application process.

paddlefish seasons set a record..for violations

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North Dakota game wardens issued a record number of citations during the recent paddlefish snagging season.

From opening day May 1until the season closed May 19, wardens cited more than 170 individuals as part of an annual saturation effort in Williams and McKenzie counties. Last year the citation total for a similar timeframe was 82.

Robert Timian, enforcement chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the agency has for many years brought in wardens from other areas of the state to help during the paddlefish snagging season. “Our main priority is to protect the paddlefish resource from illegal harvest,” Timian said. “However, paddlefish snagging is not the only outdoor activity during this time.”

For instance, only 11 of the 177 total violations were directly related to paddlefishing. The most prevalent violation was fishing without a license, involving 41 nonresidents and 12 residents. Littering was another common infraction, with 19 citations issued.

The wardens also patrol several thousand acres of state wildlife management areas in the two counties and issued 21 citations for possession of glass beverage containers and 14 citations for prohibited use of a motor vehicle.

In addition, wardens also cited numerous individuals with open containers containing alcohol in motor vehicles, and minors in possession of alcohol, and made three arrests on felony warrants and turned four drug-related incidents over to county sheriffs.

“On our management areas,” Timian emphasized, “we’re full service law enforcement.”

Enforcement saturation efforts are conducted statewide depending on the need, Timian said. “This isn’t only done in the northwest during the paddlefish season,” he added. “We bring in wardens for additional support for short-term, specific operations in other areas of the state as well.”


Paddlefish/WMA operation at Williston, ND May 1-19, 2013

Summary of violations


Wildlife Management Areas — 37 Citations

21 – Possession of glass beverage containers on a WMA

14 – Prohibited use of a motor vehicle on WMA

1 – Failure to Obey Posted WMA regulations-Camping when restricted

1 – Unlawful use of firearms in a reckless or indiscriminate manner on WMA


Paddlefishing — 11 Citations

7 – Depositing fish/fish parts on shore (paddlefish)

3 – Paddlefishing before or after legal hours

1 – Cast or attempt to hook paddlefish for another


Fishing – Other than Paddlefish — 77 Citations

41 – Nonresident fishing without a license

16 – Failure to carry fishing license on person

12 – Resident fishing without a license

3 – Fishing with an excessive number of lines

3 – Failure to attend fishing equipment

1 – Returning fish to water after being contained or confined to live well or stinger

1 – Depositing fish/fish parts on shore


Boating — 12 Citations and 1 Warning

7 – Boating with inadequate number of personal flotation devices

2 – Operating a motorboat without current registration

1 – Operate motorboat without lights when required

1 – Towing without an observer

1 – Operate a motorboat at greater than idle speed in restricted area

1 – Warning for operating without lights when required


Miscellaneous — 40 Citations and 1 Warning

19 – Littering

9 – Open receptacle containing alcohol in or on a motor vehicle

9 – Minor in possession of alcohol

4 – Drug-related incidents turned over to sheriff’s department

3 – Arrests made on felony warrants

1 – MIP warning

1 – Impersonating a game warden – 5 counts


2013 – Total Citations Issued: 177 and 2 warnings

2012 – Total Citations Issued: 82 and 7 warnings

it’s an official new state record saugeye

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Lab results confirm Dan Faiman’s state record fish is a saugeye.

The Fairview, Mont. angler caught the 12 pound record fish on Jan. 16from the Yellowstone River. Because the fish had identifying characteristics of both species, genetic material was sent to a lab to determine whether the fish was a walleye, sauger or saugeye, which is a cross between the two.

Faiman’s catch broke the previous record, set in 1984, by 4 ounces.

2013 North Dakota deer season details are set

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North Dakota’s 2013 deer season is set, with 59,500 licenses available to hunters this fall, 5,800 fewer than last year and the lowest since 1983.


Randy Kreil, wildlife chief for the State Game and Fish Department, said after a significant reduction in gun licenses in 2012, harvest and survey data revealed deer populations are still below management objectives in most units.


“The statewide hunter success rate in 2012 was 63 percent, which is higher than in 2011 (52 percent), but is still lower than our goal of 70 percent,” Kreil said. “The decrease of licenses in 2013 is necessary to allow deer populations to increase toward management goals.”


Winter aerial surveys showed deer numbers were down from 2011 levels in the northern and eastern portions of the state, specifically units 1, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2K1, 2K2, and 3A1. Kreil said although deer are still below management objectives in 2A, 2F1 and 2F2, aerial surveys showed numbers were slightly above levels recorded in 2011 or 2012.


“The winter of 2012-13 was severe in the northern and eastern portions of the state, which will impede population recovery in those areas,” Kreil said. “Furthermore, high quality deer habitat continues to be lost statewide and will limit the potential for population recovery.”


Currently, all hunting units in the state are below management objectives except in 3E2, 3F1, 3F2 and 4F.


Out west, mule deer licenses in the badlands will decrease slightly this year. As was the case last year, no antlerless mule deer licenses are available in units 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F. This restriction applies to regular gun, resident and nonresident any-deer bow, gratis and youth licenses.


According to Kreil, the spring mule deer survey did show positive trends, with numbers up 15 percent over last year. “This modest increase indicates the mild winter of 2011 and no doe harvest in 2012 might be having a positive effect on the mule deer herd,” he added. “With the no-doe-harvest regulation remaining in place for 2013, there may be some reason for optimism concerning mule deer.”


Hunters are able to draw one license for the deer gun season and one for the muzzleloader season, and purchase an archery license. Like last year, there is no concurrent season and a hunter cannot receive more than one license for the deer gun season.


The number of licenses available for 2013 is 1,150 antlered mule deer, a decrease of 50 mule deer licenses from last year; 1,166 for muzzleloader, down 116 from last year; and 115 restricted youth antlered mule deer, a decrease of five from last year.


North Dakota’s 2013 deer gun season opens Nov. 8 at noon and continues through Nov. 24. Online applications for the regular deer gun, youth, muzzleloader, and resident gratis and nonresident landowner seasons will be available May 13 through the Game and Fish Department’s website atgf.nd.gov. Also, paper applications will be at vendors throughout the state the week of May 13. The deadline for applying is June 5.


Bow hunters should note that both resident and nonresident archery licenses this year are available only through the department’s Bismarck office or website, or by calling (800) 406-6409. Archery tags will not be sold over the counter at license vendor locations in 2013.


Gratis and nonresident landowner applicants will want to take note of a new law passed recently by the state legislature. House Bill 1131 reduces the number of acres required to qualify from 160 to 150. In addition, gratis applications received on or before the regular deer gun lottery application deadline (June 5) will be issued any-legal-deer license. Applications received after the deadline will be issued based on licenses remaining after the lottery – generally only antlerless licenses remain.


HB 1131 also allows residents who turn age 12 in 2013 to receive an antlerless white-tailed deer license, and allows an individual who turns 14 this year to receive one deer license valid for the youth deer season. Previously, a young hunter had to turn the appropriate age prior to the end of the respective big game season.


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

CRP sign up coming soon

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Producers interested in submitting bids to enroll land in Conservation Reserve Program acres have from May 20 through June 14. Applications received during the CRP signup period will be ranked against others according to the Environmental Benefit Index.

Kevin Kading, North Dakota Game and Fish Department private land section leader, said there are some EBI factors that producers can influence. “Game and Fish Department private land biologists and other conservation partners such as Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever can help producers find the best possible combination of factors that will positively influence their EBI score, which may increase their likelihood of being accepted into the program,” Kading said.

Game and Fish offers cost-share assistance and additional incentives if producers enroll their CRP into the department’s Private Land Open To Sportsmen program to allow walk-in access for hunting.

“New to the PLOTS program this year is Game and Fish will make arrangements with contractors to assist producers with land preparation, grass seeding and CRP management,” Kading said. This service is offered for producers who enroll CRP in PLOTS in Dickey, Ransom, Sargent, LaMoure, Burleigh, Emmons, McLean, Sheridan, Stark, Hettinger and Adams counties.

Producers should contact the county Farm Service Agency office, or the following biologists, for more information about the general signup and opportunities with PLOTS. A series of short videos with tips and advice on how producers can maximize their CRP offer, and information about PLOTS cost-share and grass seeding assistance can also be found on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

2012 North Dakota deer season stats

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2012 Deer Gun Season Summarized

North Dakota deer hunters took approximately 34,500 deer during the 2012 deer gun hunting season.

The State Game and Fish Department made available 65,150 deer gun licenses in 2012, and more than 95 percent were issued. Overall hunter success was 63 percent, and each hunter spent an average of 4.4 days in the field.

Randy Kreil, wildlife chief, said this past season’s hunter success rate bounced back from an all-time low of 51 percent in 2011. “The 63 percent clip is fairly good, but still below the long-term average of around 70 percent,” he added. “In addition, the number of days spent hunting is still higher than usual, which is expected with lower deer populations.”

Hunter success for antlered white-tailed deer was 76 percent, and antlerless whitetail was 62 percent.

Mule deer buck success was 81 percent. No mule deer doe licenses were issued in 2012.

Hunters with any-antlered or any-antlerless licenses almost exclusively harvest white-tailed deer. These buck and doe hunters each had a success rate of 64 percent.

The department is in the process of determining recommendations for licenses in the 2013 deer proclamation. These recommendations will be discussed at the upcoming Game and Fish public advisory board meetings, scheduled for the week of April 15-18. The proclamation will be sent to the governor’s office for approval in late April.

In addition to harvest rates and winter aerial surveys, the department monitors a number of other population indices to determine license numbers, including deer-vehicle collision reports, depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board meetings, and comments from the public, landowners and department field staff.

Chronic wasting disease results

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Samples taken from North Dakota deer during the 2012 hunting season have all tested negative for chronic wasting disease, according to Dr. Dan Grove, wildlife veterinarian for the State Game and Fish Department.

Last fall, samples for CWD testing were taken from more than 1,300 deer harvested by hunters in the western third of the state.

“As always, the success of our surveillance program could not be accomplished without the cooperative efforts of hunters, meat processors and taxidermists,” Grove said.

Since the Game and Fish Department’s sampling efforts began in 2002, more than 23,000 deer, elk and moose have tested negative for CWD. Three mule deer, one each in 2009, 2010 and 2011, taken from unit 3F2 in southwestern North Dakota tested positive. All three were within 15 miles of each other.

The hunter-harvested surveillance program annually collects samples taken from hunter-harvested deer in specific regions of the state. The Game and Fish Department also has a targeted surveillance program that is an ongoing, year-round effort to test animals found dead or sick.

CWD affects the nervous system of members of the deer family and is always fatal. Scientists have found no evidence that CWD can be transmitted naturally to humans or livestock.

the BIG three seasons are set!

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Moose, Elk and Bighorn Sheep Seasons Set

North Dakota’s 2013 moose, elk and bighorn sheep proclamation is finalized and applications are available at the State Game and Fish Department’s website. The deadline for applying is March 27.

A total of 111 moose licenses are available in 2013, 32 fewer than last year.

Randy Kreil, Game and Fish Department wildlife chief, said a downward population trend in the northeastern portion of the state is of great concern. “Unit M1C will remain closed,” Kreil said, “and in addition, unit M4, which encompasses the Turtle Mountains, is also closed this year.”

In 2012, unit M4 had only seven moose licenses, Kreil added, with only two moose harvested.

Game and Fish is also making a couple of other changes designed to bolster the moose population. All licenses this year are for “any moose,” while in previous years some were specific to antlerless moose. “We think that the ‘any’ tags will protect the cow segment of the population,” Kreil said, “as records indicate most hunters choose to fill their ‘any’ tags with a bull rather than a cow.”

The moose season in units M8, M9 and M10 will open a week later than in previous years to avoid the peak of the rut. Data collected over the last year indicates a number of unbred cows were documented in those units, Kreil said, and opening the season a week later in October may improve breeding success by reducing disturbance during the peak of the mating season.

A total of 261 elk licenses are available to hunters this fall, 40 fewer than last year.

The number of elk licenses in units E3 and E4 is reduced by 40 due to the successful population reduction effort by the National Park Service in Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s south unit. A total of 937 elk – 701 adult cows – were taken out of the park by the reduction effort, and an additional 363 elk were taken by licensed hunters in E3 and E4 during the last three hunting seasons. Based on a recent elk survey, the estimated number of elk in the park is below 200, Kreil said.

On the positive side, elk unit E1 has been expanded to include parts of the Turtle Mountains, due to a growing elk population largely attributed to animals migrating in from Canada.

The bighorn sheep season will have four licenses available, the same as last year. One license is available in units B1/B2, B3 and B4. In addition, one license is auctioned through the Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation. The bighorn sheep hunter drawing the license in units B1/B2 is eligible to hunt both units.

To apply online, access the Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov. Paper applications will be available on the website (for printing) and at license vendors the week of March 11.

Bighorn sheep, moose and elk lottery licenses are issued as once-in-a-lifetime licenses in North Dakota. Hunters who have received a license through the lottery in the past are not eligible to apply for that species again.