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NDGNF March Weekly Newsletter

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Bighorn Sheep, Elk and Moose Seasons Proposed

Additional elk hunting opportunities highlight the proposed 2008 special big game seasons. The 2008 moose, elk and bighorn sheep proclamation was recently submitted to Gov. John Hoeven’s office for review and approval.

A total of 561 elk licenses are recommended, an increase of 140 from last year. Randy Kreil, wildlife chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the increase primarily occurs in Units E3 and E4.

“Licenses in these two units are increased again this year in an attempt to reduce the number of elk outside the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park,” Kreil said.

Units E3 and E4 will have hunting seasons in September, October and an extended season in November and December. The extended season is open to both September and October season license holders. The season in August, when hot weather can be a negative factor for hunters, has been eliminated due to elk remaining outside the south unit of the park longer throughout the year. “By having successful elk hunting opportunities available September through December negates the need to have an August season,” Kreil said.

In addition, E3 and E4 lottery license holders must stay in their unit for only the first three days of the season. After that, they may hunt either Units E3 or E4. “The increased flexibility in hunting unit boundaries is designed to maximize elk harvest in these two units,” Kreil said.

Elk hunters in Units E3 and E4 are required to provide hunter harvest information no later than Jan. 11, 2009. Failure to do so will result in loss of eligibility for all lottery licenses in 2009. Kreil mentioned timely harvest information is critical to making management decisions for the next year’s elk season.

The landowner preference area is enlarged in Unit E3 to include areas where elk have expanded during recent years. However, unlike lottery license holders, landowner preference license holders may only hunt in their unit.

Bow hunters in Units E1 and E2 are allowed to hunt during all open seasons. Kreil said this change is made to increase hunting opportunity and harvest in those units.

The remainder of the state outside of the four elk units, and the Turtle Mountains area described as Deer Unit 1, has been established as elk Unit E5. This unit is open to all lottery license holders from Sept. 5 through Dec. 31.

“Unit E5 was created to address situations where wild elk occur in areas of unsuitable habitat and near captive elk facilities,” Kreil said.

Once the lottery has been held, there may be a chance cow (antlerless) elk licenses remain. If this happens, Kreil said these once-in-a-lifetime licenses would be issued on a first come, first served basis, and details on how and when a person may apply will be announced at that time. “The thinking behind the first come, first served option is that if someone wanted an antlerless elk license they had their chance to apply in the lottery either as a first choice or a second choice,” he added. “It will be much simpler, less confusing, and save another application and lottery process to issue these licenses first come, first served.”

A total of 142 moose licenses are proposed in 2008, a decrease of five from last year. Kreil said the number of licenses in several moose hunting units was adjusted slightly depending upon the population trend in the area. Unit M1C will remain closed due to an extremely low moose population in the northeastern portion of the state.

Six bighorn sheep licenses are proposed in three units – one license in units B1 and B3, three in Unit B4, and one license auctioned through the Minnesota-Wisconsin Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep. Bighorn sheep Unit B2 is closed for the 2008 season due to a decrease in the number of mature rams.

Online applications for prospective moose, elk and bighorn sheep hunters will be available by March 7. To apply online, or to print out an application to mail, access the Game and Fish Department’s HSOforum, gf.nd.gov. License vendors are scheduled to have applications around March 10. The deadline for submitting applications is March 19.

Bighorn sheep, moose, and elk lottery licenses are issued on a once-in-a-lifetime basis in North Dakota. Persons who have received a license through the lottery in the past are not eligible to apply for that species again.

Game Wardens Association to Give Scholarship

The North Dakota Game Wardens Association has a $300 scholarship available for graduating high school seniors entering college in fall 2008 who enroll in fisheries or wildlife management with an emphasis on law enforcement.

Applicants must be North Dakota residents and have maintained a 3.25 grade point average. The scholarship will be awarded to the student upon proof of enrollment in college.

Applications are available by contacting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department at 328-6604; or email [email protected]. Applications must be postmarked no later than May 3, 2008.

Permanent Fish Houses Must be Removed by Midnight March 15

State law requires permanent fish houses to be removed from North Dakota waters by midnight March 15.

Nancy Boldt, water safety coordinator for the state Game and Fish Department, said anglers should exercise caution because variable weather conditions this time of year can make it difficult to even get to a fish house.

“Access on some lakes could be restricted due to snow,” Boldt said. “Also, warm weather and high winds this late in winter can rapidly deteriorate ice conditions.”

Fish houses may be used after March 15 if they are removed daily.

Spring Crow Season Opens March 15

North Dakota’s spring crow season opens statewide March 15 and continues through April 27.

Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. There is no daily or possession limit on crows.

Hunters can use last fall’s 2007-08 small game and general game and habitat license, or combination license, or purchase a new 2008-09 combination license.

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Subscribe to Weekly Webcast

Outdoors Online is a North Dakota Game and Fish Department video news broadcast available exclusively on the Internet. The weekly webcast focuses on current news and issues that appeal to people who hunt, fish, trap and enjoy North Dakota’s outdoors.

The program is hosted and produced by Tom Jensen and Mike Anderson, the Game and Fish Department’s national award-winning video team. Each week Jensen hosts a studio guest, and also keeps viewers up-to-date on what they need to know to better enjoy their outdoor activities.

A new program is posted each Thursday to the Game and Fish Department’s HSOforum, gf.nd.gov. Each weekly webcast runs approximately 10 minutes. Click to subscribe.

Spring Turkey Drawing Held, Licenses Remain

The 2008 spring wild turkey lottery has been held and more than 500 licenses remain in nine units. Only those hunters who do not have a license for the 2008 spring season are eligible to apply.

Licenses remain in Unit 04, portions of Billings and Golden Valley counties south of Interstate 94; Unit 06, Bowman County; Unit 15, Emmons County; Unit 17, portions of Billings and Golden Valley counties north of Interstate 94; Unit 31, Mountrail County; Unit 44, Slope County; Unit 45, Stark County; Unit 47, that portion of Stutsman County that lies east of U.S. Highway 281; and Unit 99, Mercer and Oliver counties.

Hunters who do not have a license can apply online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s HSOforum, gf.nd.gov, or call 328-6300 to request an application. Licenses are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.

Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply.

Nonresident Any-Deer Bow Licenses Remain

Approximately 200 any-deer bow licenses are still available to nonresidents in 2008, according to Carrie Whitney, licensing supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

The Game and Fish Department began issuing nonresident any-deer bow licenses March 1, and more than 1,050 of the allotted 1,252 licenses for 2008 have been purchased.

Remaining licenses are issued on a first come, first served basis. Nonresidents can print out an application for mailing at the Game and Fish Department HSOforum, gf.nd.gov, or call 701-328-6300 to request an application. Only one license is allowed per hunter.

The number of nonresident any-deer bow licenses available is 15 percent of the previous year’s mule deer gun license allocation. The department issued 8,350 mule deer licenses in the 2007 deer gun lottery.

Time to Think Boating Basics

March and April are traditionally the months when many outdoor enthusiasts begin to ready equipment and make plans for another open water boating season in North Dakota. With that in mind, now is a good time to look into taking the state’s Boating Basics Course.

State law requires youngsters ages 12-15 who want to operate a boat or personal watercraft with at least a 10 horsepower motor to first pass the state’s Boating Basics Course. In addition, major insurance companies give adult boat owners who pass the course a premium discount on boat insurance.

The course is available for home-study from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Bismarck office, or online at boaterexam.com.

Nancy Boldt, boat and water safety coordinator for the department, said while the home-study course is free, students will be charged $24 to take it online. “The online provider is charging for the course, and the money stays with them. It doesn’t come to the Game and Fish Department,” Boldt said.

Students interested in taking the course online should choose the option “North Dakota.” Upon completion of the test, and providing a credit card number, students will be able to print out a temporary certification card, and within 10 days a permanent card will be mailed.

The course covers legal requirements, navigation rules, getting underway, accidents and special topics such as weather, rules of the road, laws, life saving and first aid.

For more information on Boating Basics write to Nancy Boldt, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095; email [email protected]; or call 701-328-6300.

Sharp-tailed Grouse Observation Blinds to Open

Several national wildlife refuges and a state wildlife management area will offer sharp-tailed grouse observation blinds for public use this spring. The blinds are popular with wildlife photographers and others interested in watching the spring courtship rituals of sharp-tailed grouse.

Grouse blinds typically receive widespread interest and are available by reservation only. Those locations offering blinds usually start taking reservations for late March or early April, weather permitting. Peak grouse dancing activity usually occurs from mid-April into early May.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has an observation blind at Lonetree Wildlife Management Area southwest of Harvey. Call 324-2211 for reservations.

Contact the following national wildlife refuges for information on blind reservations:

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, Kenmare, 848-2722.

Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, Kenmare, 385-4046.

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Moffit, 387-4397.

Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge, Pingree, 285-3341.

Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, Berthold, 468-5467.

J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge, Upham, 768-2548.

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ANS Regulations in Effect April 1

Effective April 1, anglers, boaters and personal watercraft users must abide by new regulations intended to prevent the introduction or spread of aquatic nuisance species into and within North Dakota.

ANS include aquatic animals, plants and diseases which are not native to North Dakota and have the likelihood to become well-established if introduced.

Greg Power, fisheries chief for the state Game and Fish Department, said North Dakota does have some problem areas, such as curly leaf pondweed in the Missouri River System, Eurasian water milfoil in parts of the Sheyenne River drainage and common carp in a number of waters.

“In the past, anglers and boaters were encouraged to practice ANS guidelines,” Power said. “Now, these guidelines are rules that must be followed. It is vital that water users understand these important requirements. If introduced, ANS can devastate a fishery and cause serious ecological and economic damage to our state.”

To comply with these regulations, water enthusiasts must:

· Inspect and remove all aquatic vegetation from boats, personal watercraft, trailers, and associated equipment such as fishing poles and lures before leaving a body of water.

· Remove all aquatic vegetation from bait containers when leaving the water.

· Drain all water from boats and other watercraft, including bilges, livewells and motors, at the ramp site before leaving a water body. The only exception is livewells used to transport game fish or baitfish, and potable water and sewage water which must be disposed of properly.

· Not transport live aquatic bait or aquatic vegetation into North Dakota. All water must be drained from watercraft upon entering the state.

· Not dump bait into any North Dakota water.

· Not introduce any fish into North Dakota water.

· Not transport nongame fish (other than legal live baitfish) in water away from the water body in which they were taken.

More ANS information can be found in the 2008-10 North Dakota Fishing Guide and by accessing the Game and Fish Department HSOforum at gf.nd.gov.

For local information contact district fisheries supervisors Fred Ryckman, Williston, 774-4320; Jeff Hendrickson, Dickinson, 227-7431; Jason Lee, Riverdale, 654-7475; Paul Bailey, Bismarck, 328-6688; Randy Hiltner, Devils Lake, 662-3617; Gene Van Eeckhout, Jamestown, 253-6482; Missouri River System supervisor Dave Fryda, Riverdale, 654-7475; or ANS coordinator Lynn Schlueter, Devils Lake, 662-3617.

Anglers Take Note of 2008-10 Fishing Regulations

North Dakota’s 2008-10 fishing proclamation has been set with regulations effective April 1, 2008 through March 31, 2010.

The 2008-10 North Dakota Fishing Guide will be available at license vendors by the end of the month.

Notable regulation and administrative rule changes include:

· Any container used to hold bait must be free of aquatic vegetation.

· Spottail shiners are no longer a legal live baitfish.

· Wanton waste is not allowed. No person shall possess any game fish species and then waste, destroy or abandon the edible flesh.

· Two weeks are added to the end of the darkhouse spearfishing season (will now continue through March 15).

· Opened 16 additional lakes to darkhouse spearfishing.

· Removed the maximum size (12 inches in diameter) of a hole used for ice fishing. However, a hole greater than 10 inches in diameter must be adequately marked and visible from a minimum of 150 feet.

· Removed the 14-inch minimum walleye restriction on Lake Elsie, Brewer Lake, Dead Colt Creek Dam, Sprague Lake and Lake Tewaukon. Also removed the 24-inch pike restriction on Sprague Lake and Lake Tewaukon.

· It is illegal to leave fish houses on state-owned or managed land after March 15.

· Regulations are in place to reduce the introduction or spread of aquatic nuisance into or within the state.

Department Evaluates 2007 Deer Season

North Dakota deer hunters took approximately 100,000 deer during the 2007 hunting season, according to statistics released by the state Game and Fish Department.

Deer gun hunters harvested more than 98,100 deer, muzzleloader hunters took more than 1,000, and youth hunters accounted for more than 1,400. Deer bow statistics are not yet available.

The overall hunter success rate was 74 percent.

Hunter success for antlered white-tailed deer was 79 percent, and antlerless whitetail was 71 percent.

Mule deer buck success was 77 percent, while mule deer doe hunters had a success rate of 81 percent.

The success rate for young hunters during the nine-and-a-half day youth season was 45 percent. However, combined with the success rate by youth license holders during the regular season, overall success jumped to 80 percent.

Muzzleloader season hunters had a success rate of 44 percent.

The Game and Fish Department allocated 148,550 deer gun licenses in 2007, and more than 97 percent were issued to hunters.

Department biologists are in the process of determining recommendations for deer licenses in the 2008 deer proclamation, which will be sent to the governor’s office for approval in late April.

Deer license numbers are determined by evaluating hunter harvest and deer survey data, deer-vehicle collision reports, depredation reports, and comments from the public, landowners and department field staff.

New Fishing, Furbearer Licenses Needed April 1

Hunters, trappers and anglers are reminded that new fishing and furbearer licenses are required April 1.

The dates for the furbearer license coincide with fishing season. The 2008-09 licenses are effective April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009.

Licenses can be purchased online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department HSOforum, gf.nd.gov., and accessing the online services link.

Anglers are also reminded this is the first year of a new two-year fishing proclamation. Refer to the 2008-10 North Dakota Fishing Guide for regulations.

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Game and Fish Advisory Board Meetings Announced

Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to attend a North Dakota Game and Fish Department advisory board meeting in their area.

These public meetings, held each spring and fall, provide citizens with an opportunity to discuss fish and wildlife issues and ask questions of their district advisors and agency personnel.

The governor appoints eight Game and Fish Department advisors, each representing a multi-county section of the state, to serve as a liaison between the department and public.

Any person who requires an auxiliary aid or service must notify the contact person at least five days prior to the scheduled meeting date.

District 5 – Counties: Cass, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Steele and Traill

Date: April 7 – 7 p.m.

Location: Emden Community Center

Host: Four Corners Wildlife Club

Contact: Mark Levos, 633-5513

Advisory board member: Loran Palmer, West Fargo, 282-8479

District 4 – Counties: Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh

Date: April 8 – 7 p.m.

Location: Pekin Community Center

Host: Pekin Rod and Gun Club

Contact: David Morken, 296-4484

Advisory board member: Ronald Houdek, Tolna, 262-4724

District 6 – Counties: Barnes, Dickey, Foster, Griggs, Logan, LaMoure, McIntosh, Stutsman and Wells

Date: April 9 – 7 p.m.

Location: The Bunker (Hillcrest Golf Course), Jamestown

Host: United Sportsmen of Jamestown

Contact: Larry Kukla, 252-2811

Advisory board member: Rita Greer, Marion, 669-2315

District 8 – Counties: Adams, Billings, Bowman, Dunn, Golden Valley, Hettinger, Slope and Stark

Date: April 14 – 7 p.m. MT

Location: Beach Ambulance Building

Host: Pheasants Forever

Contact: Misty Farnstrom, 872-4349

Advisory board member: Wayne Gerbig, Amidon, 879-6353

District 1 – Counties: Divide, McKenzie and Williams

Date: April 15 – 7 p.m.

Location: Williston Community Library

Host: Upper Missouri United Sportsmen

Contact: Daryl Kleyer, 774-4320

Advisory board member: Merle Jost, Grassy Butte, 863-6727

District 2 – Counties: Bottineau, Burke, McHenry, Mountrail, Pierce, Renville and Ward

Date: April 16 – 7 p.m.

Location: Club Building, Berthold

Host: Berthold Sportsmen’s Club

Contact: Joe Lautenschlager, 453-3548

Advisory board member: Richard Anderson, Willow City, 366-4625

District 3 – Counties: Benson, Cavalier, Eddy, Ramsey, Rolette and Towner

Date: April 21 – 7 p.m.

Location: To be announced.

Advisory board member: Tracy Gardner, Devils Lake, 662-5639

District 7 – Counties: Burleigh, Emmons, Grant, Kidder, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sheridan and Sioux

Date: April 22 – 7 p.m.

Location: To be announced.

Advisory board member: Frank Kartch, Bismarck, 222-4544

Department Receives $73,000 for Bighorn Sheep Management

Three checks totaling $73,000 were given to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department at the March 15 Minnesota-Wisconsin Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep annual meeting in Minneapolis.

North Dakota’s 2008 bighorn sheep auction license, which allows the winning bidder the rare privilege of pursuing a North Dakota bighorn on a self-guided hunt, sold for $35,000. Along with an annual grant of $25,000, Minnesota-Wisconsin FNAWS, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management presented the department with $13,000 for bighorn sheep transplants.

The grant and license auction are part of a 10-year agreement, signed in 1999, between the department and Minnesota-Wisconsin FNAWS.

Open Fires Banned on Oahe WMA

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is prohibiting open burning this spring on property managed south of Bismarck and Mandan, as a means to reduce potential for wildfires on a heavily wooded recreation area along the Missouri River, according to Jeb Williams, wildlife resource management supervisor.

All open burning, including campfires, is banned until further notice on the Oahe Wildlife Management Area along both sides of the Missouri River. Oahe WMA covers more than 16,000 acres along Lake Oahe south of Bismarck-Mandan, in portions of Burleigh, Emmons, and Morton counties. Burning restriction signs are posted at all entrances to the WMA.

Because of the combination of high use by anglers, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, and heavy vegetative fuel loads along this river property, these woodlands are exceptionally prone to wildfires prior to spring green-up.

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Spring Turkey Season Opens April 12

North Dakota’s spring turkey season opens Saturday, April 12 at 30 minutes before sunrise and continues through May 18.

Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the state Game and Fish Department, said turkeys occupy all areas of the state containing good habitat, and in many instances, are even found in areas of marginal turkey habitat by surviving in secondary cover.

“Numbers may have started to level off in the central and eastern prairie units after several years of continuous growth,” Kohn said. “Some areas of the south central and southwestern portions of the state have showed poor reproductive success since 2004, but reproduction did improve some in 2007. Overall, turkey numbers in the western portion of the state remain strong.”

Licenses are still available in three units for those who have not received a spring turkey license. First-come, first-served licenses remain in units 06, Bowman County; 15, Emmons County; and 45, Stark County. Hunters who do not have a license can apply online at the Game and Fish Department’s HSOforum, gf.nd.gov, or call 328-6300 to request an application. Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply.

Hunters who were successful in drawing a turkey license are reminded they must also have a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate, and a general game and habitat license. In addition, hunters 16 years of age and older must possess a small game license, or a combination license.

Hunters can use either their 2007-08 hunting licenses from last fall, or purchase those licenses for the 2008-09 hunting season.

Game and Fish Sponsors Earth Day Project

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is celebrating Earth Day by sponsoring a youth clean-up day on public-owned or managed lands in April and May.

“If your school, Girl Scout, Boy Scout, 4-H club or any youth organization participates in cleaning up public lands during April and May, each participant will receive a specifically designed conservation patch,” said Nathaniel Umphrey, Game and Fish Department outreach biologist.

Last winter the department sponsored a contest for students ages 6-18 to design a North Dakota Earth Day Patch. Winners in the three age categories were Jacob Langerud of Bismarck (6-9), Schanen Mendez of Belfield (10-13), and Fernanda Simoes of Parshall (14-18). Langerud’s design was chosen the patch winner, and will be used on this year’s Earth Day patch.

Groups taking part in clean-up activities should take the following precautions to ensure safety: keep young people away from highways, lakes and rivers; and only allow older participants to pick up broken glass.

“We hope these projects help build an understanding of wildlife habitats, and how human activities can negatively impact those habitats with pollution,” Umphrey said.

Interested participants are asked to call Bill Jensen (328-6637) or Nathaniel Umphrey (328-6332) to receive a reporting form for their project.

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