Tag Archives: news

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

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.