The North Dakota Game and Fish Department conducted its annual spring mule deer survey in April, and results indicate western North Dakota’s mule deer population has increased 19 percent from last year.
Bruce Stillings, big game supervisor, said the increase is a result of less severe winters the past couple of years, no harvest of antlerless deer in 2012 and 2013, and improved fawn production. The 2014 index is only 7 percent below the long-term average.
One glance at a lake or river and you already notice several boats on the water. With that mind, boat owners are reminded that properly-fitted life jackets should be worn and not used as a comfortable seat cushion.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department boat and water safety coordinator Nancy Boldt said water temperatures in spring are extremely cold, and sudden immersion can cause serious problems.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists are asking anglers for help in documenting lakes that may have experienced winter fish mortality.
Fisheries management section leader Scott Gangl said some winterkill is expected every year, with the severity depending on winter weather conditions.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will continue to implement camping restrictions on some wildlife management areas in western North Dakota and along Lake Sakakawea.
Overnight camping is prohibited on the following WMAs: Antelope Creek, Lewis and Clark, Big Oxbow, Ochs Point, Neu’s Point (except campers accessing by boat, and only at the point area), Overlook, Sullivan and Tobacco Garden in McKenzie County; Van Hook in Mountrail County; and Hofflund and Trenton in Williams County.
More than 500 archers registered to compete in the North Dakota National Archery in the Schools Program state tournament April 11-12 in Bismarck.
Jeff Long, NASP coordinator for the State Game and Fish Department, said: “This program continues to grow every year, and all three winning teams committed to go to the national tournament, along with at least three of the top individuals,” Long said, while noting 517 registered this year, up more than 20 percent from last year.
Anglers and boat owners are reminded to review their licenses for the 2014 fishing and boating season.
Anglers must have a 2014-15 fishing license. Fishing licenses can be purchased online at the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. A new state law requires residents age 18 or older to prove residency on the application by submitting a valid North Dakota driver’s license number or a North Dakota nondriver photo identification number.
North Dakota’s paddlefish snagging season opens May 1 and is scheduled to continue through the end of the month. However, depending on the overall harvest, an early in-season closure may occur with a 24-hour notice issued by the state Game and Fish Department.
Potential snaggers are reminded that opening day, May 1, falls on a Thursday. Snag-and-release of all paddlefish is required on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays, so opening day is snag-and-release only.
State Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand has appointed longtime employee Scott Peterson as the agency’s new deputy director.
Peterson, a native of Montpelier in southern Stutsman County, will begin his new position May 1. He has been the Department’s wildlife resource management section leader at the Lonetree district office, located southwest of Harvey, for 22 years.
“Scott has proven his leadership abilities over the years,” Steinwand said. “I look forward to working closely with him on the issues.”
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual bighorn sheep survey revealed a minimum of 293 bighorn sheep in western North Dakota, virtually unchanged from the previous count of 297.
In total, biologists counted 85 rams, 159 ewes and 49 lambs. Not included are 24 bighorn sheep introduced from Alberta in February, and approximately 30 bighorns in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Confiscated hunting and fishing equipment will be sold Saturday, May 3 at the North Dakota Wildlife Federation’s Report All Poachers auction in Minot. The auction is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the North Dakota State Fair Center’s 4-H hall.
Auction items can be viewed between 12-2 p.m. Items include more than 70 rifles, shotguns and handguns; fishing equipment; bows; knives; spotlights; coolers and other miscellaneous merchandise.
The next guide and outfitter written examination is May 17 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.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s advisory board meetings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in Williston, Turtle Lake and Walhalla have been postponed due to inclement weather and travel difficulties. The meeting scheduled for Tuesday in Makoti will take place as planned.
The meetings in Turtle Lake and Williston are rescheduled for Monday, April 14. The rescheduled date for Walhalla is April 15.