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ND GNF June Newsletters

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Walleye Tagging Continues at Devils Lake

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel recently tagged 1,000 walleye at Devils Lake. Randy Hiltner, northeast district fisheries supervisor, said the popular fishery is in the second year of a three-year tagging project.

“The project involves tagging 1,000 walleye each spring,” Hiltner said. “This allows us to gather information on walleye movements, total fish mortality between years, angling mortality rates and differences in mortality rates between sexes.”

Anglers who catch a tagged fish are asked to report it. “It is very important,” Hiltner said. “More information leads to sound management.”

However, Hiltner mentioned, it doesn’t mean these fish have to be kept. “Anglers should treat these tagged walleye like any other catch,” he said. “If you normally would release the fish, then do so.”

Tags from this year are yellow – while last year’s were orange – and are attached by wire to the top of the fish. The tag does not need to be sent in, just the information: tag number, kept or released, date caught, length, location, and angler’s name and address.

Tagged fish information can be reported by several methods. Anglers are encouraged to report tagged fish online at the Game and Fish Department HSOforum, Also, tag return cards can be filled out at bait shops around the lake, or anglers can bring in the information or call the Devils Lake Game and Fish office at 662-3617.

A follow-up letter will be sent to the angler with information such as when and where the fish was tagged, and fish length at the time it was tagged.

Family Fishing Days at Bismarck OWLS

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is hosting family fishing days this summer on Saturdays and Wednesdays at the Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site located adjacent to the department’s main office in Bismarck.

Jeff Long, education coordinator, said the first event is set for June 7, the opening day of the state’s annual free fishing weekend. “On June 7, adults will not need a license to participate,” Long said. “After that, normal licensing requirements apply.”

To kick off the event, hot dogs and refreshments will be served from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. The first 100 kids ages 14 and younger will receive a gift. Fishing rods and basic tackle are available for use free of charge.

Continuing through August, fishing equipment can be checked out at the OWLS on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

“There will be adults in the area to answer questions and check out equipment, but there will be little or no direct supervision,” Long said. “If kids aren’t old enough to get to the pond on their own, they need to have an adult with them.”

The OWLS area is fairly primitive, with only a picnic shelter and benches upon entering the site. There are no restroom facilities, or running water. Users should bring water, sunscreen and the appropriate clothing.

The Game and Fish Department is seeking volunteer instructors to assist with the program. Individuals at least age 18 with an interest in teaching kids to fish should contact Long at 328-6322.

The OWLS pond is open to fishing year-round during daylight hours. There are no bait restrictions and anglers must practice catch-and-release only. The area is designed for wheel chair accessibility. Pets, glass bottles and alcohol are not permitted on the site.

Motorists Advised of Deer on Roadways

Motorists are advised to remain alert and exercise caution when driving after dark as young-of-the-year deer are beginning to disperse from their home ranges.

Increased activity by young deer is a main reason why June is considered a peak month for deer-vehicle accidents. Most accidents occur primarily at dawn and dusk when deer are most active. If an accident does happen, a local law enforcement agency should be contacted.

Also, a permit is required if someone wants to take parts or the whole carcass of a road-killed deer. Permits are free and available from North Dakota Game and Fish Department district game wardens, as well as other local law enforcement offices.

A few precautions can minimize chances of injury or property damage in a deer-vehicle crash:

· If a deer is crossing the road, there is a good chance a second or third will follow.

· Motorists should slow down and honk the horn when seeing deer on the road.

· Pay attention on roadways posted with Deer Crossing Area caution signs as deer are known to be in the area.

· Always wear a seat belt.

· Don’t swerve or take the ditch to avoid hitting a deer. Try to brake and stay on the roadway.

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Anglers Reminded of Packaging and Gifting Fish

North Dakota anglers are reminded there is a proper way to package and gift or give away fish.

Robert Timian, chief of enforcement for the state Game and Fish Department, said even though most regulations are the same as in past years, a reminder is warranted because some are new, and others are often overlooked.

A regulation that was changed for 2008, in part because of public input, involves the proper way to package fish. Transporting packaged fish must be done so that the number of fish in each package is easily determined. In the past, fillets transported frozen had to be packaged individually, with two fillets counting as one fish.

“This regulation was modified to make it simpler for the angler to pack and transport fish, and at the same time allow wardens to identify and count fish,” Timian said. “You can now package more than one fish per pack as long as the warden can count the fillets.”

Fillets can’t be frozen in a clump. If the number of fillets is not easily determined, the angler might have to thaw out the package.

The gifted fish regulation has also caused some confusion in the past. Fish may be given to another person, but these fish do count against the donor’s daily limit. Fish given to another, including packaged fillets, must include the name of the donating angler, fishing license number, telephone number, date, and number and species of each fish. The person receiving the gifted fish does not need a fishing license.

Possession limit is the maximum number of each legally taken fish species that a person may have in possession during a single fishing trip of more than one day.

The daily limit is a limit of fish taken or received from midnight to midnight, except no person may possess more than one day’s limit of fish while on the water or actively engaged in fishing.

Timian said there is no limit to the number of fish kept in a freezer at home because there is no storage limit at a personal residence. However, he said at no time can an angler have more than a possession limit when away from their permanent residence. This includes when transporting fish.

A complete list of fishing regulations is available on the Game and Fish Department HSOforum,; or in the 2008-10 North Dakota Fishing Guide.

Unintentionally Hooked Paddlefish Warrants Reminder

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists remind Missouri River anglers to immediately release accidentally hooked paddlefish.

“Paddlefish are present throughout the Missouri River System,” said Scott Gangl, fisheries management section leader. “There will be unintentional snagging most years because of high boat and angler traffic in some areas.”

Gangl stresses the proper technique for releasing these unique fish unharmed:

Release immediately, but do not remove the fish from the water. Lifting a paddlefish out of the water can damage internal organs designed to be supported in water.

If the fish is exhausted, hold it horizontal in the water and move it back and forth gently so that water is forced over the gill filaments, until it can swim away on its own.

Remove the hook gently. A pair of needlenose pliers can help eliminate problems and speed up hook removal.

Do not sit/kneel on the fish or put fingers in its gills. Be careful of the gills – do not touch if possible. To immobilize the fish, you can firmly grip the rostrum, or paddle, and the base of the tail.

If the fish is deeply hooked, cut the line as close to the fish as possible. Do not yank the hook out. Most fish survive with hooks left in them.

If a picture is taken, it should be of the fish in the water, or holding the fish immediately above the water in a horizontal position. Do not take the fish out of the river and hold it upright or lay it on the shoreline.

Boaters Reminded to Report Accidents

Regardless of how safe and cautious boaters are on the water, sometimes an accident does happen. If a boating accident involves injury, death, or disappearance of a person, or if property damage exceeds $2,000, an accident report must be filled out and sent to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

An accident report involving injury, death or disappearance of a person must be submitted to the department within 48 hours of the occurrence. A boat operator has five days to file a report in cases where damage to property exceeds $2,000.

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Fall Turkey Season Set, Online Applications Available

North Dakota’s fall turkey season is set and prospective hunters can apply online, or print out an application to mail, at the state Game and Fish Department’s HSOforum,

The fall wild turkey season extends from Oct. 11 through Jan. 11, 2009. A total of 8,700 wild turkey licenses are available, an increase of 675 from last year. In addition, up to 1,300 licenses may be used in specific hunting units if turkey reproduction is exceptionally good this spring.

“At this point it is too early to tell what the numbers of young birds will look like,” said Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor. “If reproduction is good, these licenses in reserve will be available on a first come, first served basis after the lottery and before Oct. 1.”

An experimental turkey hunting season is established within the city of Bismarck to help control a growing population of birds in residential areas. A maximum of 25 licenses will be distributed on a first come, first served basis to individuals who are licensed to bow hunt deer within the city. These licenses will be available at the Game and Fish Department in Bismarck once a person has a valid city archery permit.

Hunting units 21 (Hettinger and Adams counties) and 53 (Divide and Williams counties) will remain closed to fall turkey hunting in 2008 because of a decline in turkey numbers.

Lottery applications will be available by June 16 from Game and Fish Department offices, county auditors and license vendors. Gratis applications are available only at Game and Fish and county auditor offices.

Applications are also accepted at the department’s toll-free licensing line, 800-406-6409. A service fee is added for license applications made over the phone.

Applications for the fall season must be postmarked no later than July 2. Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply in the first lottery. Nonresidents can apply for fall turkey licenses that are still available following the first lottery.

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Spring Duck Index Similar to Last Year, Water Conditions Down

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual spring breeding duck survey showed an index of more than 3.4 million birds, unchanged from last year and 60 percent above the long-term average.

Gadwall (+47 percent) and northern shovelers (+20 percent) showed significant increases, while pintails (-36 percent), mallards (-29 percent), wigeon (-27 percent) and green-winged teal (-14 percent) were down. All diving ducks – canvasback, redhead, scaup and ruddy ducks – showed increases from last year.

The large number of ducks tallied during the survey is abnormal considering the extremely poor water conditions across the state, said Mike Johnson, game management section leader. “Part of this is because we have been carrying a duck population that is well above average since the mid 1990s,” he said.

This year, a number of these ducks continued to stay in North Dakota despite greatly reduced water conditions. With the dry conditions, many ducks were either waiting for improved water conditions before committing to nesting, or were still in the process of settling.

However, despite the relatively good breeding duck population index, Johnson is not expecting a good-year in terms of production. “The lone drake indices were well below average and the correction for hens on nests was the third lowest on record,” he added. “What this tells us is there were a lot of ducks sitting around and not actively breeding.”

The spring water index was down 70 percent from 2007 and 57 percent below the long-term average. The wetland index is the 10th lowest in survey history (61 years) and the lowest since 1992.

Johnson cautions that the water index is based on basins with water, and does not necessarily represent the amount of water contained in wetlands. “Conditions are actually worse than indicated,” Johnson said. “Wetlands with even a trace of water contribute as much to the index as those that are full. Our survey crews indicated that many wet basins held very little water at the time of the survey.”

The July brood survey will provide a better idea of duck production, and a better insight into what to expect this fall. “Observations to date indicate that production may be reduced in much of the state due to dry conditions and reduced wetland availability for brood production,” Johnson added. “However, fall weather always has a big impact on the success of the hunting season.”

Save Our Lakes Program is Successful

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Save Our Lakes program has rehabilitated nearly 42,000 feet of shoreline since 2001.

“Our goal is simple – to make the fishery better for fish, and people,” said Scott Elstad, SOL coordinator.

Altogether, crews have tackled 42 separate projects. Some of the work entails creating dry dams used to collect sediment, low-level draw downs, and planting trees and native grasses on cultivated property. “Our bigger projects include repairing eroded shorelines and removing sediment so fish have habitat and people have access,” Elstad said.

The program is entirely funded by angler dollars, with a budget of slightly more than $1 million per biennium. Elstad said more than $4 million has been invested in SOL projects.

“We are looking at spending $350,000 this year,” Elstad said, while noting lakes tentatively scheduled for projects are Cottonwood Park Pond, Gaebe Pond, Spiritwood Lake, Lake Ilo, Red Willow Lake, Lake Hoskins and McVille Dam. In addition, Harmon Lake and Pipestem Dam watersheds are scheduled for evaluation this summer.

District fisheries biologists make recommendations of waters best suited for rehabilitation. In addition, various public entities request assistance in lake or watershed improvements.

Even though SOL is designed to improve lakes and reservoirs, Elstad said the program is now including urban fisheries. “This is targeted toward kids,” he added. “We want to provide them with the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, and hopefully establish a lifelong commitment to fishing.”

Work on urban fisheries has occurred at Dickinson, Watford City, Williston, Beach, New Salem and Bismarck. Other possibilities in the immediate future include Wahpeton, Grand Forks and New Rockford.

While the SOL program is successful, Elstad reminds anglers that a blue-ribbon fishery doesn’t happen overnight. “It takes a few years for a lake or reservoir to recover. But the SOL program certainly can facilitate recovery,” he said.

Litter Shouldn’t be Left Behind

Anglers and outdoor recreationists are reminded to clean up after themselves while enjoying lake and river activities this summer.

Greg Power, fisheries chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said lakes, rivers and shorelines should be kept clean for others to enjoy. “It is not healthy for the environment, and is a real eyesore when garbage is left behind,” he said. “Bottom line, it doesn’t take much to pick up after ourselves.”

In the past decade, many local government entities have invested both money and time into providing trash receptacles and collection at most fishing lakes. Power encourages anglers to clean up their mess by placing trash in garbage cans. In areas where there are no garbage cans, anglers and campers should take their refuse home and dispose of it properly.

“The old adage ‘pack it in, pack it out’ certainly still applies,” Power said, while noting that littering is illegal and punishable by a fine up to $500. “It doesn’t take much space in the boat, or even a tackle box, for a trash bag or two.”

North Dakota has one of the highest percentages of its residents who participate in fishing. “It just stands to reason we all have a part in maintaining quality fishing experiences, and this includes cleaning up before we go home,” Power said. “North Dakota is blessed with wonderful natural resources. We all need to be good stewards.”

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Summer Safety Starts with Life Jackets

As Fourth of July weekend approaches, North Dakota Game and Fish Department officials are urging water recreationists to make sure life jackets are of appropriate size, and in good condition.

Nancy Boldt, boat and water safety coordinator, said the Independence Day celebration is a longstanding tradition for families to get together at a favorite lake. “In some instances it is the only time people get out to a lake, and year after year it tends to be the same life jacket pulled out of storage,” Boldt said. “Check them for wear and tear, and make sure all users, especially children, wear one that is properly-fitted.”

North Dakota law requires all children ages 10 and younger to wear a personal flotation device while in boats of less than 27 feet in length. The law also requires all personal watercraft users to wear a life jacket, Boldt said, as well as anyone towed on skis, tubes, boards or other similar devices.

“It is also important that children wear a PFD while swimming, as they can become tired, develop cramps and struggle in the water,” Boldt said.

Failure to wear a PFD is the main reason people lose their lives in boating accidents. Ten boating accidents were reported in North Dakota last year, with eight causing personal injuries. No fatalities were involved.

The National Safe Boating Council warns boaters that most drowning victims had a life jacket available, but were not wearing it when they entered the water. It is difficult to put a life jacket on once you are already in the water.

When purchasing a PFD, Boldt suggests considering the most prevalent water activity. Water skiers and tubers should wear a life jacket with four nylon straps rather than one with a zipper, because straps are stronger than zippers upon impact with water. Anglers or persons paddling a canoe should opt for a PFD that is comfortable enough to wear for an entire outing.

Water skiers and tubers are reminded it takes three to ski and tube. When a person is towed on water skis or a similar device, an observer other than the operator is required on the vessel.

Boldt stresses the importance of checking for objects below the water’s surface, especially near shore where most jet-skiing and water-skiing activity begins and ends. “Large objects may potentially lead to a significant injury,” she added.

For swimmers, it is never a good idea to dive into a lake. “Depths are inconsistent, and you just don’t know what is there,” Boldt said.

Boat operators should be aware of the potential impact of their wake. “Wakes can make more waves than you think,” Boldt said. “The best way to minimize the dangers of a wake is to take a close look at your boat and the wake it could create. By doing this, in addition to observing the law, you can take steps not to create or receive a damaging wake that affects other boaters, as well as bank erosion.”

Regulations to help ensure safe boating this summer are found in the 2008-10 North Dakota Fishing Guide. A more comprehensive listing is available in the 2008-10 North Dakota Boat and Water Safety Guide or the Boat North Dakota education book. These guides are available online at the Game and Fish HSOforum,, by emailing, or at a local Game and Fish Department office.

Recreationists Reminded of WMA Regs, Fireworks Prohibited

With Independence Day less than two weeks away, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is reminding citizens that combustible or explosive materials, including lighting fireworks, is prohibited on state wildlife management areas.

Excessive noise and commotion that come with fireworks disturbs wildlife, and their explosive nature is a potential source of wildfires. Chances of a wildfire developing are greatly enhanced when explosives come in contact with tall grasses in rural areas.

A complete list of the WMA regulations is available by contacting the Game and Fish Department at 701-328-6300, or email WMA use regulations are also available on the Game and Fish HSOforum at

Some of the regulations include:

· Unless otherwise designated, the use of motorized vehicles is restricted to constructed roads, well-worn trails, and parking areas normally used for passenger cars.

· Watercraft cannot be left unattended unless it is used on a daily basis.

· Littering or the disposal of waste material is prohibited, except in garbage containers where provided.

· Property may not be removed without a permit from the Game and Fish Department.

· Commercial enterprise, including guiding, is prohibited except by lease or permit from the Game and Fish Department.

· Camping for longer than 10 consecutive days is prohibited.

· Group activities involving more than 25 people require a permit issued by the Game and Fish Department.

· Training of bird and gun dogs is prohibited April 1 through Aug. 15.

· Glass containers are prohibited.

· Model rocket engines are prohibited.

· Baiting wildlife for any purpose is prohibited.

Hunting Guide and Outfitter Test Set for Aug. 16

The next guide and outfitter written examination is Aug. 16 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.

Hunting outfitter eligibility requirements include the guide qualifications, as well as an individual must have held a hunting guide license for two years; and must have proof of liability insurance.

Interested individuals are required to preregister by calling the Game and Fish Department’s enforcement office at 328-6604.

Game and Fish Pays $511,000 in Property Taxes

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently paid $511,210 in taxes to counties in which the department owns or leases land. The 2007 in-lieu-of-tax payments are the same as property taxes paid by private landowners.

The Game and Fish Department manages more than 185,000 acres for wildlife habitat and public hunting in 50 counties. The department does not own or manage any land in Traill or Renville counties.

Following is a list of counties and the tax payments they received.


Tax Due


Tax Due


Tax Due



























































































Golden Valley






Grand Forks




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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

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