Much higher-than-normal July temperatures are stressing fish populations across the state.
Scott Gangl, fisheries management section leader for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said this summer biologists have documented fish kills in approximately a dozen water bodies throughout the state.
An ongoing effort to monitor state waters for aquatic nuisance species has not produced any significant discoveries this year.
Fred Ryckman, ANS coordinator for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said only one limited infestation – curly leaf pondweed – was found at Lake Elsie in Richland County.
“There were only a few individual plants in Lake Elsie, and they likely are already dying back for the year,” Ryckman said. “However, anglers and other water recreationists should take extra time to inspect, clean and drain equipment before leaving the lake.”
More hunting opportunities meant more pheasants taken during the 2011 season, as last fall’s pheasant harvest was 683,000, up from 552,000 in 2010.
Aaron Robinson, upland bird biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the overall landscape probably didn’t have more birds, but Mother Nature allowed for an increase in harvest due to mild weather conditions and minimal snow cover in November, December and early January.
The North Dakota Cooperative Fur Harvester Education program is sponsoring a fur harvester education class in Bismarck, Dickinson and Jamestown for anyone interested in trapping or hunting furbearers.
The free 16-hour course is set for Bismarck Aug. 14 (5:30-9:30 p.m.), 16 (5:30-9:30 p.m.) and 18 (8 a.m.-5 p.m.) at the Game and Fish Department.
The class in Dickinson will be held at the Game and Fish district office on Aug. 25 and Sept. 1 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Last year’s historic flooding conditions caused a slight decline in fishing license sales, but it didn’t keep anglers from wetting a line.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual angler survey revealed 137,000 resident licenses were sold last year, down 2 percent from 2010-11. However, angler participation and effort actually increased.
Greg Power, fisheries chief, said the small drop in license sales comes as no surprise as many of the state’s water bodies were affected by high water in 2011.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department biologists recently completed the 2012 pronghorn population survey, which revealed the statewide population is 20 percent lower than last year. Therefore, the Game and Fish Department is recommending the pronghorn hunting season remain closed in 2012.
Bruce Stillings, big game supervisor in Dickinson, said the statewide population estimate has dropped to approximately 3,600 pronghorn. “Pronghorn in all four management regions decreased in numbers from last year and are well below population objectives,” he said.
The State Game and Fish Department is considering an option to increase the daily limit for the early Canada goose season from eight to 15, following recent action by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regulations Committee.
North Dakota’s spring pheasant crowing count survey revealed a 10 percent increase statewide compared to last year.
All four pheasant districts showed an increase compared to last year. The number of crows heard in the southeast increased by 12 percent, northwest by 8 percent, northeast by 6 percent and southwest by 4 percent.
Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the State Game and Fish Department, said birds did not experience excessive mortality last winter.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel, along with staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fish hatcheries, recently completed stocking 9.8 million walleye fingerlings in 113 lakes across the state.
Jerry Weigel, fisheries production and development section leader for the Game and Fish Department, said this year’s walleye goal required exceptional production from nearly every hatchery pond in the state.
The green space at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Conservation and Outdoor Skills Park at the state fairgrounds in Minot turned brown last summer following the Mouse River flood.
Like the rest of the fairgrounds, though, it’s coming back nicely this summer and will once again welcome visitors at the state’s biggest outdoor gathering July 20-28 at the North Dakota State Fair.
The next guide and outfitter written examination is Aug. 4 at 1 p.m. at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department office in Bismarck. The test is given periodically to anyone interested in becoming a hunting guide or outfitter in the state.
In addition to passing a written exam, qualifications for becoming a guide include a background check for criminal and game and fish violations; certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and standard first aid; and employment by or contract with a licensed hunting outfitter.