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NDGNF Weekly Newsletter for February

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- Time to Register for Hunter Education Classes

- Spring Snow Goose Hotline, HSOforum Provide Migration Updates

- Another Mountain Lion Caught in Western North Dakota

Time to Register for Hunter Education Classes

Adults and children looking to take a hunter education class in 2007 should enroll now as some classes are beginning to fill up, and others are already underway, according to Jim Carter, hunter education coordinator for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

As of Feb. 1, more than 80 percent of the classes scheduled for 2007 are listed on the Game and Fish HSOforum, gf.nd.gov. “We have 173 classes listed, with only a few left to work out some of the scheduling,” Carter said. “People need to understand that 70 percent of all classes take place by the end of May, and that hardly any are available during late summer and fall because most of the volunteer instructors are pursuing their own outdoor activities.”

Individuals can sign up for a class by accessing the Game and Fish HSOforum, and clicking on the online services tab, and “online course enrollment” under the hunter education heading. Classes are listed by city, and can also be sorted by start date. To register for a class, click on “enroll” next to the specific class, and follow the simple instructions. Personal information is required.

Individuals who do not have access to the internet and want to sign up for a class can call the hunter education program in Bismarck at 328-6615.

State law requires anyone born after Dec. 31, 1961 to pass a certified hunter education course to hunt in the state. Hunter education is mandatory for youth who are turning 12 years old, and children can take the class at age 11.

Spring Snow Goose Hotline, HSOforum Provide Migration Updates

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 HSOforum, 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.

Snow geese tend to move through North Dakota fairly quickly in the spring, with arrival and duration in the state dependent on weather conditions, said Mike Szymanski, waterfowl biologist for the state Game and Fish Department. “Snow geese generally start showing up in the southeast part of the state mid-to-late March,” Szymanski said, “but huntable numbers usually aren’t around until the last week in March, or even the first week in April. Movements through the state are largely dependant on available roosting areas and the extent of the snow line.”

North Dakota’s spring light goose season opens Feb. 17 and continues through May 6. Although resident hunters can use either a license for 2006-07 or 2007-08 (a federal duck stamp is not required for the spring season), all hunters must obtain a new Harvest Information Program number for 2007 before hunting in the spring season. Hunters who have yet to obtain a HIP number may do so by calling 888-634-4798, or log on to the Game and Fish Department HSOforum.

Licensing requirements and regulations are also available by accessing the HSOforum.

Another Mountain Lion Caught in Western North Dakota

An immature mountain lion found dead last week in a bobcat snare in western North Dakota is the second young cat inadvertently taken in a two-week span in roughly the same area.

A young 50-pound male lion was found Jan. 30 about 10 miles northwest of Grassy Butte in McKenzie County. In mid-January, a bobcat trapper found a 46-pound male lion in one of his traps north of Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s North Unit. Both lions were less than a year old, and were caught within 11 miles of each other.

Because of their young age, both cats were almost certainly born in North Dakota, said Dorothy Fecske, furbearer biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

“We appreciate the trapper contacting us,” Fecske said. “As with all the other cats harvested in North Dakota, biological samples may help us determine if these animals are related.”

A third lion, caught in a trap in the badlands in November, was fitted with a radio-collar and released. Game and Fish biologists have been monitoring this lion weekly and have found the animal staying within a 25-square-mile area.

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Snowmobiles, ATVs Should Stay Away from Wildlife

Snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle riders are reminded to keep their distance from wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Robert Timian, North Dakota Game and Fish Department chief of enforcement, warns outdoor recreationists that it is illegal to flush, pursue and chase wildlife with snowmobiles or other motorized vehicles.

“Riders are reminded to observe state laws that protect wildlife and its habitat,” Timian said. “Harassing or chasing of wildlife not only stresses animals, but is also illegal.”

Running snowmobiles near, through, or around winter habitat such as thickets, cattails and wooded areas may inadvertently scare wintering wildlife, causing them additional stress or injury. “Snowmobilers should take this into consideration to avoid unnecessary stress on wildlife,” Timian said.

District game wardens receive a number of calls each winter related to people on snowmobiles chasing wildlife, particularly coyotes. Snowmobiles can be used off an established trail while fox or coyote hunting, Timian said, but they cannot be used to flush, chase or pursue.

Observers witnessing harassment or chasing of wildlife are encouraged to call the Report All Poachers hotline at 800-472-2121. “Illegal activities can be reported 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Timian said. “We need people to report this.”

Riders are encouraged to use snowmobile trails and avoid situations that could disturb wildlife. Information on the North Dakota trail system is available at the Snowmobile North Dakota web site at www.snowmobilend.com.

Classes Still Open at Winter BOW

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program still has openings at a one-day winter workshop Feb. 24 at Lake Metigoshe State Park, Bottineau.

Women interested in basic snowshoeing and cross-country skiing should register immediately due to limited space available. The cost is $40 for one class or $60 for two classes. Pre-registration with payment is required. Equipment and snacks will be provided.

Information and registration forms can be obtained by contacting Nancy Boldt, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095; 701-328-6312; or email [email protected]

Registration forms are also available on the Game and Fish HSOforum, gf.nd.gov, by accessing the education tab, and clicking on “formal and informal education.”

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Game and Fish Withdraws as Cooperating Agency from National Park Elk Management Process

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is withdrawing its support for a process to determine the best way to reduce elk numbers within Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

In a letter sent to the National Park Service Feb. 12, Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand said the department would no longer participate as a cooperating agency because it cannot support the alternatives the park service is still considering for reducing the elk population in the park’s south unit, located in southwestern North Dakota’s Billings County.

According to a park service newsletter, the south unit currently has an estimated 750-900 animals. Through whichever alternative is eventually chosen, the park service would like to reduce elk numbers and then attempt to maintain the population at a lower level.

From the time the park service decided there was a need to reduce the elk population, Steinwand said Game and Fish has worked closely with the federal agency, because many of the elk are not full-time park residents. Rather, many animals spend considerable time on public and private land outside the park where they are part of a larger western North Dakota elk herd.

The park service will not consider hunting as a management tool and has eliminated from further consideration the alternative of controlled public hunting by qualified volunteers. Alternatives that are still under consideration include taking no action; initial reduction and maintenance by sharpshooting; initial reduction and maintenance by euthanasia; using fertility control agents; and moving elk from the park to other locations (currently not allowed because of disease concerns).

The alternatives will be discussed at public meetings Feb. 21 and 22. The Feb. 21 meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. MST at the TR Park visitor center in Medora. The Feb. 22 meeting is at 6:30 p.m. CST at Game and Fish Department headquarters in Bismarck.

The Game and Fish Department will send a representative to the meetings to provide technical advice, but will not be a cooperating agency.

“In our opinion, the alternatives to be reviewed with the public at the upcoming meetings will be met with a great deal of disappointment, skepticism, and opposition,” Steinwand wrote in his letter. “Your (NPS’s) own public scoping process showed overwhelming support by those in attendance for an alternative that would involve public participation in the elk reduction process....Instead, the reaction was to ignore this public sentiment and hide behind the circular argument based on an agency solicitor’s opinion that says allowing the public to participate in reducing the elk herd would constitute ‘hunting,’ which is not allowed in the park because it was not included in the enabling legislation.”

Steinwand said the Game and Fish Department understands that hunting in national parks has previously not been allowed, “but this is a special situation that requires a different approach,” he emphasized. “Those elk are public wildlife resources and we strongly believe that if the park service needs to kill them, some type of controlled public hunt is certainly a reasonable alternative to include in the continuing evaluation process.”

2006 Bighorn Sheep, Moose and Elk Harvests

Harvest statistics released by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department show overall hunter success during the 2006 season was 100 percent for bighorn sheep, 90 percent for moose and 59 percent for elk.

Four bighorn sheep units were open in 2006. One license was issued in units B1, B2 and B4, and two licenses were issued for Unit B3. One additional auction license holder was able to hunt any open area. All six hunters tagged adult rams.

The department issued 129 moose licenses last year. Of that total, 116 hunters were successful, harvesting 66 bulls and 50 cows/calves. Harvest for each unit follows:

Hunting Unit

Licenses Issued

Bulls

Cow/Calf

M4

15

9

5

M5

8

2

3

M6

15

10

3

M8

40

22

14

M9

21

10

9

M10

30

13

16

The department issued 259 elk licenses last year. Of that total, 154 hunters were successful, harvesting 98 bulls and 56 cows/calves. Harvest for each unit follows:

Hunting Unit

Licenses Issued

Bulls

Cow/Calf

E1

51

8

14

E2

90

31

24

E3

50

27

8

E4

68

32

10

Darkhouse Spearfishing Season Closes Feb. 28

Anglers are reminded that North Dakota’s darkhouse spearfishing season closes Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Interested individuals who would still like to get out for the first time this year must register with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Registration is available through the department’s HSOforum, gf.nd.gov, or through any Game and Fish Department office.

Wildlife Wednesdays Scheduled in Grand Forks

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will present a series of wildlife and conservation related talks in March at the Ramada Inn in Grand Forks. The Wednesday night presentations begin at 7 p.m. and last about 90 minutes.

All four presentations are intended for fourth-graders to adults. Written materials and handouts will be available where applicable. For more information, contact Marty E. Egeland, outreach biologist, at 739-6982.

March 7 – Attracting Wildlife to Your Backyard.

March 14 – Wildlife Law Enforcement.

March 21 – Mountain Lions in North Dakota.

March 28 – Catfishing on the Red River.

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