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Spring Turkey Drawing Held, Licenses Remain

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The 2012 spring wild turkey lottery has been held and more than 700 licenses remain in nine units. The governor’s proclamation allows a maximum of two licenses, and hunters who did not apply in the first drawing are also eligible.

Licenses remain in unit 03, Benson and Ramsey counties and a portion of Pierce County; unit 06, Bowman County; unit 19, Grant and Sioux counties and portions of Morton County; unit 25, McHenry County and portions of Pierce and Ward counties; unit 31, Mountrail County; unit 45, Stark County; unit 47, Eddy, Foster, Kidder, Sheridan, Stutsman and Wells counties; unit 51, Burke County and portions of Renville, Bottineau and Ward counties; and unit 99, Mercer and Oliver counties.

Licenses are issued on a first-come, first-served basis beginning March 8. Hunters can download and print an application by accessing the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov, or request an application by calling (701) 328-6300. Online applications will be available March 8. Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply.

The spring turkey season opens April 14 and continues through May 20.

Moose, elk & bighorn sheep 2011 success rates

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2011 Bighorn Sheep, Moose and Elk Harvests

Harvest statistics released by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department show overall hunter success during the 2011 season for bighorn sheep was 100 percent, 88 percent for moose and 50 percent for elk.

Four bighorn sheep units were open in 2011. Game and Fish issued one license in unit B1/B2, two licenses in unit B3, and two licenses in unit B4. One additional auction license holder was able to hunt any open area. All six hunters tagged adult rams.

The department issued 163 moose licenses last year. Of that total, 159 hunters harvested 140 animals – 84 bulls and 56 cows/calves. Harvest for each unit follows:





Success Rate




































The department issued 520 elk licenses last year. Of that total, 504 hunters harvested 251 elk – 177 bulls and 74 cows/calves. Harvest for each unit follows:





Success Rate






















a thank you to Hunter Ed instructors

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Hunter Education Volunteers Recognized

Volunteer instructors for North Dakota’s hunter education program were recognized Feb. 11 for their contributions of teaching students the importance of hunter safety and ethics.

Instructor of the year and years of service awards were presented at the annual hunter education workshop and awards banquet held in Bismarck.

Larry Thompson of Dickinson and Dale Patrick from Bismarck were named instructors of the year.

Recognized for 35 years of service were John Jones, Wishek; Steven Seeger, Turtle Lake; Jim Shulind, Grand Forks; Ernest Trudeau, Jamestown.

Receiving 30-year service awards were Timothy Dewald, Streeter; Jim Gross, Mandan; Rodney O’Clair, Jamestown; Lori Schweigert, Beulah; Lyle Westbrook, Moffit.

Presented with 25-year service awards were Darwin Bucholz, Rolla; Terry Fasteen, Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Allan Goerger, Barney; Juel Halstenson, West Fargo; Richard Harwood, Lemmon, S.D.; Susan Harwood, Lemmon S.D.; Robert Ingold, Manning; Thomas Kempf, Sawyer; Dennis Miller, Mandan; Lynda Miller, Mandan; Scott Mitchell, Rolla; Michael Peterson, Hazen; Robert Schwagler, New Salem; Joe Solseng, Grand Forks; Todd Thingelstad, Grand Forks; Lauren Throntveit, Crosby; Albert Ulmer, LaMoure; Curtis Wittmayer, Parshall.

Honored for 20 years of service were Douglas Bolte, Regent; James Borkowski, Bottineau; Dean Burwick, Dickinson; Dennis Ertelt, Fingal; Gary Ertmann, Devils Lake; Gerard Goldade, Hague; Craig Hoffart, Bottineau; Ruth Hubbard, Minot; James R. Johnson, New Rockford; Alan Klatt, Grand Forks; George Koenig, Gackle; Lynn Lawler, Rolla; Glenn Lemier, Oakes; Richard Leshovsky, Velva; David Meberg, Hebron; Karla Meikle, Bismarck; Brad Pierce, Hatton; Doyle Roeder, Bismarck; Lance Sateren, Bismarck; Daryl Simmons, Garrison; Patricia Stark, Cavalier; Curtis Walen, Carrington.

2012 snow goose updates

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This little shot of winter is going to through a little wrench into what was setting up to be a very early spring snow goose migration. How much snow, where it falls and how soon it melts will all play into the 2012 season. stay tuned!

North Dakota spring light goose hunters can track general locations of geese as birds make their way through the state during the upcoming spring season.

Hunters are able to call (701) 328-3697 to hear recorded information 24 hours a day. Migration reports are also posted on the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Updates will be provided periodically during the week as migration events occur, until the season ends or geese have left the state.

Availability of food and open water dictate when snow geese arrive in the state. Early migrants generally start showing up in the southeast part of the state in mid-to-late March, but huntable numbers usually aren’t around until the end of March or early April. If this winter’s mild weather conditions continue, light geese could arrive earlier than normal. However, movements into and through the state will depend on available roosting areas and the extent of the snow line.

North Dakota’s spring light goose season opens Feb. 18 and continues through May 6. Season information, including licensing requirements and regulations, are also available by accessing the Game and Fish website.

deadline for spring turkey applications!

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The state Game and Fish Department is offering 5,795 wild turkey licenses for the spring hunting season, a decrease of 925 from last year. The decrease is a result of additional winter mortality the last three years and poor production during spring 2011.

Ten of the 22 hunting units have fewer spring licenses than in 2011, while 11 remain the same. Unit 21 (most of Hettinger and Adams counties) is again closed in 2012 due to lack of turkeys in the unit.

Successful spring turkey applicants must purchase a 2012-13 hunting license, as last year’s 2011-12 licenses expire March 31. In addition to the spring turkey license, hunters must have a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate, and a general game and habitat license. Also, hunters ages 16 and older must possess a small game license, or combination license.

First-time spring turkey hunters ages 15 or younger are eligible to receive one spring license valid for the regular hunting season in a specific unit. To be eligible, the youth hunter must be 15 or younger on opening day of spring turkey season, and have never received a spring turkey license in North Dakota.

Spring turkey applicants can apply online at the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Applications can also be submitted by calling (800) 406-6409.

Application forms will also be available by Feb. 1 at most license vendors, county auditors and Game and Fish offices. The deadline for applying is Feb. 15. Online or phone applications must be logged before midnight that day.

Spring turkey licenses are available only to North Dakota residents. The spring turkey season opens April 14 and continues through May 20.

new North Dakota fishing regulations

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2012-14 Fishing Regulations Set, New License Required

North Dakota’s 2012-14 fishing proclamation is set, with regulations effective April 1, 2012 through March 31, 2014. In addition, anglers are reminded that new fishing licenses are required April 1.

Greg Power, fisheries chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the northern pike daily and possession limits are increased to five and 10 statewide. “The intent is to provide more of an opportunity for those anglers who like to fish for and keep pike,” Power said. “This will not affect the population because the pike fishery is in excellent shape. We have a record number of lakes with pike, many with record populations. Pike anglers should be happy the next few years.”

Another noteworthy change involves opening most waters to darkhouse spearfishing, except for a small number of lakes that contain muskie. “The merits of different criteria were closely assessed, and the existence of muskie was the only criteria used to exclude a lake,” Power said. “We have not observed any significant problems in the past 10 years, and biologically speaking there should be few, if any, in the future.”

Lakes where darkhouse spearfishing is not allowed are Braun Lake, Emmons County; New Johns Lake, Burleigh County; East Park Lake, West Park Lake and Lake Audubon, McLean County; McClusky Canal; Heckers Lake, Sheridan County; Red Willow Lake, Griggs County; Sweet Briar Dam, Morton County; and the Red and Bois de Sioux rivers.

Other noteworthy regulation changes include:

  • ·         Added Sundays for snag-and-release only during the paddlefish season.
  • ·         Added a 14-inch walleye length restriction to six lakes in southeast North Dakota – Alkali Lake, Buffalo Lake and Tosse Slough in Sargent County; and Lake Elsie, Lueck Lake and West Moran Lake in Richland County.
  • ·         Increased the minimum harvest length of a muskie to 48 inches.
  • ·         Added Mott Watershed in Hettinger County and Nelson Lake in Oliver County to the list of “no live baitfish” lakes.
  • ·         Eliminated the 24-inch minimum length restriction for northern pike at North and South Golden lakes in Steele County.

Fishing licenses can be purchased March 1 at the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov.

The 2012-14 North Dakota Fishing Guide will be available in March at Game and Fish Department offices and license vendors throughout the state.

2012 spring snow goose season is set

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Light goose hunters planning to hunt during North Dakota’s spring season can purchase a license online at the state Game and Fish Department’s website. The season opens Feb. 18 and continues through May 6.

Residents can hunt during the spring season by having last fall’s 2011-12 bird licenses. Otherwise, hunters will need to purchase either a 2012-13 combination license; or a small game, and general game and habitat license.

Nonresidents, regardless of age, need a 2012 spring light goose season license. The cost is $50 and the license is good statewide. Nonresidents who hunt the spring season remain eligible to buy a fall season license. The spring season does not count against the 14-day fall hunting season regulation.

A federal duck stamp is not required for either residents or nonresidents.

Licenses are available only from the Game and Fish Department’s Bismarck office, the department’s website at gf.nd.gov, or by calling (800) 406-6409.

Availability of food and open water dictate when snow geese arrive in the state. Early migrants generally start showing up in the southeast part of the state in mid-to-late March, but huntable numbers usually aren’t around until the end of March or early April. If this winter’s mild weather conditions continue, light geese could arrive earlier than normal.  However, movements into and through the state will depend on available roosting areas and the extent of the snow line.

Hunters must obtain a new Harvest Information Program registration number before venturing out into the field. The HIP number can be obtained online or by calling (888) 634-4798. The HIP number is good for the fall season as well, so spring hunters should save it to record on their fall license.

The Game and Fish Department will provide hunters with migration updates once geese have entered the state. Hunters can access the department’s website, or call (701) 328-3697, to receive generalized locations of bird sightings in North Dakota until the season ends or geese have left the state. Migration reports will be updated periodically during the week.

The spring season is only open to light geese – snows, blues, and Ross’s. Species identification is important because white-fronted and Canada geese travel with light geese. The season is closed to whitefronts, Canada geese, swans and all other migratory birds.

The statewide season is open through May 6. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. There is no daily bag limit or possession limit. Electronic and recorded calls, as well as shotguns capable of holding more than three shells, may be used to take light geese during this season.

There are no waterfowl rest areas designated for the spring season. Hunters should note that private land within waterfowl rest areas closed last fall may be posted closed to hunting.

Nontoxic shot is required for hunting all light geese statewide. Driving off established roads and trails is strongly discouraged during this hunt because of the likelihood of soft, muddy conditions, and winter wheat that is planted across the state.

To maintain good landowner relations, hunters are advised to seek permission before hunting on private lands or attempting any off-road travel during this season. Sprouted winter wheat is considered an unharvested crop. Therefore, hunting oroff-road travel in winter wheat is not legal without landowner permission.

All regular hunting season regulations not addressed above apply to the spring season. For more information on regulations refer to the 2012 Spring Light Goose Hunting Regulations and the 2011 North Dakota Waterfowl Hunting Guide.


another record breaker…(no, not the weather)

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual midwinter waterfowl survey in early January showed 279,000 birds, a record high for the number of ducks and geese wintering in the state.

Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird biologist, said an estimated 90,000 Canada geese were observed on the Missouri River, and another 70,500 were scattered on Lake Sakakawea, which was completely open east of the Van Hook Arm. After summarizing the numbers, a record 190,000 geese were tallied statewide.

“This year’s survey was highly abnormal, and numbers of waterfowl within the state were probably underestimated because of the open water and lack of snow statewide,” Szymanski said. “The lack of snow cover was especially important in keeping these birds around.”

A mild, dry fall with record-setting warm temperatures kept the birds here longer than usual, Szymanski said, with snow geese remaining in the southern half of the state until early December.

In addition to the record number of geese, mallards reached an all-time high as 88,000 were counted statewide, with 31,000 on Devils Lake.

Survey conditions were generally good, Szymanski said, with record-setting high temperatures in January bringing daytime highs of 15-30 degrees above normal.

“This year’s survey results are a dramatic turnaround from the last three severe winters when less than 36,000 total waterfowl were observed statewide each year,” Szymanski said.

Great Lakes Wolf Population Delisted changes status in North Dakota

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The recent decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the Great Lakes population of gray wolves from federal protection might not seem as important in North Dakota as some of the other states in the Midwest, but it is significant nonetheless.

Stephanie Tucker, North Dakota Game and Fish Department furbearer biologist, said this development is important because it means the Great Lakes population has recovered enough to no longer warrant protection by the Endangered Species Act. “However, the Great Lakes population region delisting only includes the portion of North Dakota east of U.S. Highway 83 and the Missouri River, thus complicating their management status in our state,” Tucker said.

Due to this action, the management of wolves found roaming through the eastern portion of the state will fall back to the State Game and Fish Department under state management guidelines as a protected furbearer. The complicating aspect of the decision is that wolves moving through western North Dakota (west of Highway 83 and the Missouri River) still remain under federal protection because that area falls between the Great Lakes and Rocky Mountain boundaries.

“Although we do get rare sightings in North Dakota, we don’t have a resident wolf population in the state, or enough suitable habitat to support one; therefore, we have no plans to allow a hunting season on wolves at this point,” Tucker said. “The upside is that under state management, we now have the flexibility to deal with any issues that may arise with the occasional transient animals moving through North Dakota.”

State law provides a provision for landowners to protect their property from depredation by a state-managed furbearer. Therefore, landowners in eastern North Dakota could shoot a wolf posing a threat to livestock. However, west of highway 83 and the Missouri River, wolves are still an endangered species under stricter federal protection. Subsequently, landowners in that part of the state must first contact proper federal authorities before taking action on their own.

“Our hope is that in the near future, additional delisting action by the Fish and Wildlife Service will address western North Dakota,” Tucker said. “Then the confusion over split management status in our state will be eliminated.”

Minnesota DNR issues citation in cougar shooting

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Charges have been filed today by the Jackson County attorney’s office against a Jackson County man in southwestern Minnesota for allegedly shooting a cougar on Nov. 27, 2011, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Daniel Hamman, 26, was charged by citation with shooting a protected animal.

Hamman allegedly shot the cougar after being contacted by a neighbor, who saw the cat run from a rural grove of trees into a culvert. The cougar was shot as it flushed from the culvert.

Maximum penalties Hamman could face include a fine up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail.
The DNR has filed an affidavit of restitution requesting the court to order Hamman to pay $1,000 to the state for the cougar. Criminal charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant/suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The cougar shot in Jackson County was a 125-pound male, estimated to be one to three years old. The DNR conducted a necropsy of the cougar to assess the condition of the animal, look for signs of captivity and collect additional samples to help determine the origin of the animal. No obvious signs of captivity were present such as being declawed, exhibiting excessive pad wear, or having tattoos or microchips. Samples have been submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Forensics Lab in Missoula, Mont., to do a DNA analysis; results are pending. The DNR plans to have the cougar mounted and used for educational purposes.

Since 2007, the DNR has confirmed 14 cougar sightings across the state. Eleven have been from trail cameras or video. One was road killed, one was found dead and one was shot. Dozens of other, unconfirmed sightings have also been reported.

Why might cougars show up in Minnesota? Cougars are solitary, roaming animals. As young males reach maturity, they begin to look for new territory and will travel considerable distances. The timing of many of Minnesota’s verified cougar sightings (mid- 2000s and forward) is not unexpected given the somewhat rapid increase in the cougar population in the western Dakotas that began in the mid-1990s. Extensive research in the Black Hills has documented the changing cougar dynamics that typically lead to increased dispersal of young males.

Although verifications have increased, evidence of cougars in Minnesota remains extremely rare.

Cougars are protected animals in Minnesota. State statute makes it illegal for a citizen to kill a cougar in most circumstances. Minnesotans can kill a cougar if a life threatening situation arises. Public safety officials are authorized to kill a cougar to protect public safety. If a cougar poses an immediate threat to public safety, a DNR conservation officer or local law enforcement person should be contacted as soon as possible.

Minnesota Statutes section 97A.301, Subdivision 1(1) states: Misdemeanor. Unless a different penalty is prescribed, a person is guilty of a misdemeanor if that person: (1) takes, buys, sells, transports or possesses a wild animal in violation of the game and fish laws.

According to Minnesota Statutes section 97B.641, there is no open season for cougars in the state of Minnesota.

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