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Article By 
Greg Freeman

Peterson Named Game and Fish Deputy Director

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, started 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.”

Peterson said he is humbled and honored to accept the position. “I have a deep appreciation for what the staff at the Game and Fish Department has been able to accomplish over the years, and know how hard they work to protect and maintain the resource,” he said.


Duane DeKrey, who had served in the position since January 2013, left the agency to work for the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District.


Bighorn Sheep Population Stable

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual bighorn sheep survey revealed a minimum of 293 bighorn sheep in western North Dakota, nearly 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.

Brett Wiedmann, Department big game biologist, said the count in the northern badlands was the highest on record, beating the previous record set in 2012, but the southern badlands population declined 15 percent.

“Rams and lambs showed a slight decline, but adult ewes increased,” Wiedmann said. “About 75 percent of lambs counted during last summer’s survey survived the winter, which is about average, but the recruitment rate of 37 percent was above average.”

Game and Fish Department biologists count and classify all bighorn sheep in late summer, and then recount lambs the following March, as they approach one year of age, to determine recruitment.

Wiedmann is encouraged by another year of healthy numbers of lambs because it is indicative of a healthy population. “Adult mortality was also low last winter, so we expect another good crop of lambs,” he said.

Game and Fish allocated five bighorn sheep hunting licenses for 2014, one more than 2013.


Anglers, Boat Owners Need Current Licenses

Anglers and boat owners are reminded to renew 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, 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.

The 2013 state legislature established new fees for several licenses, including resident individual fishing ($16), resident husband and wife ($22) and combination ($50). The combination license includes fishing, general game and habitat, small game and furbearer.

Boat owners are reminded that 2014 is the first year of a new three-year registration period. The new boat registration cycle runs through December 31, 2016.

The price to register motorboats under 16 feet in length, and all canoes, is $18; motorboats from 16 feet to less than 20 feet in length $36; and motorboats at least 20 feet in length $45.

Renewal notices were mailed to boat owners last December. Those who did not receive a renewal notice should contact the Game and Fish Department at 701-328-6335, or email Many renewals were returned because some owners who moved within the last three years did not notify the Department with their new address.

Boat registrations can be renewed online at the Department’s website, by clicking the online services link, and “watercraft registration and renewals” under the watercraft heading.

Also, anyone buying a new or used watercraft can register online and generate a 10-day temporary permit that is valid until the registration is processed.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is self-funded and only receives revenue from license sales and federal funds.


Camping Restrictions on Some WMAs

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.


Lewis and Clark WMA is closed from one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise unless users are legally engaged in fishing, hunting or trapping. However, camping is allowed for paddlefish snaggers at the pumphouse area and at Neu’s at the point by boat access. Glass bottles are prohibited.

In addition, the following WMAs are closed to camping on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but open to camping Thursday-Monday: North Lemmon Lake in Adams County; Bull Creek in Billings County; Alkali Creek and Spring Creek in Bowman County; Smishek Lake and Short Creek Dam in Burke County; Harris M. Baukol in Divide County; Killdeer Mountains in Dunn County; Camels Hump Lake in Golden Valley County; Indian Creek in Hettinger County; Audubon, Custer Mine, Deepwater Creek, deTrobriand, Douglas Creek and Wolf Creek in McLean County; Beaver Creek and Hille in Mercer County; Storm Creek in Morton County; Cedar Lake and Speck Davis Pond in Slope County; and McGregor Dam in Williams County.


On those WMAs where camping is allowed Thursday through Monday, all equipment must be removed on Tuesday and Wednesdays when camping is not allowed.

The rules ensure these areas are available for hunters and anglers. Camping restrictions at all WMAs are posted at entry points.


Deer Meetings Generate High Interest


Except for a reduced number of licenses available, North Dakota’s 2014 deer seasons will look pretty much the same as in previous years.

Through a series of public meetings and an open comment period earlier this year, deer hunters provided a lot of input for the Game and Fish Department to consider for 2015 and beyond.

“We told people at the meetings that it was very unlikely any major changes would take place this year,” said Randy Kreil, Department wildlife division chief. “Aside from adjustments to the total number of deer gun season licenses, we won’t be recommending any changes in season structure or the number of licenses any one deer hunter can have.”

Game and Fish wildlife managers will analyze the hundreds of written and verbal comments received, before deciding whether to pursue changes for 2015.

More than 800 people attended eight deer meetings held around the state. Several hundred additional hunters either watched the final meeting broadcast online, or viewed a recorded version. Game and Fish received about 400 written online comments and many other direct emails and phone calls.

“We expected high interest in this process and the response we got was even above that,” Kreil said. “North Dakota hunters are passionate about our deer hunting tradition. Our long-term hope is that habitat trends will allow us to rebuild the deer population from where it is now to a level that is satisfactory to the deer hunting public. Most people seem willing to make some type of short-term licensing-related changes to help us do that. Because of the great response we’ve had, we have a lot of ideas to evaluate, some of which are new or variations of the current system.”

Game and Fish set up the meetings and public comment process to explore some ideas for changes in deer license allocation the agency has received in recent years, in response to a declining deer population and fewer available licenses. In 2008 Game and Fish allocated nearly 150,000 licenses and in 2013 the total fell to 59,500. The 2014 allocation is 48,000.

While even at 150,000 licenses, not every hunter could get a preferred license in a preferred unit. Kreil said the number of hunters who applied for a gun season license and didn’t get one has increased significantly over the past years.

As with all issues, Game and Fish is open to continuing public input. The general Department email address is; and phone number is 701-328-6300.


Lisbon Youth Wins Best of Show

A northern pintail, titled “Just Chilling,” was chosen the 2014 Best of Show in the North Dakota Junior Duck Stamp Contest.

Brennen Stotts, an 18-year-old high school student from Lisbon, used a colored pencil to depict a lone pintail standing on the edge of a wetland. His artwork was selected from a record 1,300 contest entries from across North Dakota.

Stott’s drawing will represent North Dakota at the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest. The winner of the national contest will have their entry made into a stamp.


Other first-place winners in the four age categories were:

  • Grades K-3: Mikaela Woodruff, Garrison; Joshua Zaharia, Neche; and KayLeigh Lucy, Kenmare.
  • Grades 4-6: Megan Burgard, Towner; Tyson Tomlinson, Sawyer; and Alora Woodruff, Garrison.
  • Grades 7-9: Megan Tichy, Tower City; Trent Hunskor, Newburg; and D.J. Elstrom, Valley City.
  • Grades 10-12: Abby Brown, Valley City; and Tia Wagar, Valley City.


Hunting Guide and Outfitter Test

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.

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 701-328-6604.


Occupied Eagle Nests

The State Game and Fish Department is asking for help in locating bald eagle nests in North Dakota.

Sandra Johnson, Game and Fish Department conservation biologist, said the Department is looking for locations of nests with eagles present, not individual eagle sightings.

“It is easy to distinguish an eagle nest because of its enormous size,” she said.

Historically, Johnson said eagle nests were found along the Missouri River. Now, they’ve been observed in more than half the counties in the state, mostly near streams and mid- to large-sized lakes. However, nests are also found in unique areas such as shelterbelts surrounded by cropland or pasture.


Johnson estimates the state has around 120 active bald eagle nests, possibly more.

Nest observations should be reported to Johnson at 701-328-6382, or by email at

Observers are asked to not disturb nests, and to stay away at a safe distance.

“It is important not to approach the nest as foot traffic may disturb the bird, likely causing the eagle to leave her eggs or young unattended,” Johnson said.


NASP State Tournament Results


More than 500 archers registered in April to compete in the North Dakota National Archery in the Schools Program state tournament in Bismarck.

Jeff Long, Game and Fish Department NASP coordinator, 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 participation in 2014 was up 20 percent from last year.

The national tournament is May 9-10 in Louisville, Kentucky. The Game and Fish Department and North Dakota Bowhunters Association contribute $3,000 in travel assistance to the first place team in each division, and $1,000 to the overall male and female individual winners.

The high school (grades 9-12) state championship team was from Hankinson; middle school (grades 7-8) champs from Wahpeton; and taking top honors in the elementary school (grades 4-6) division was Wilton.

Overall male and female winners were Kyle Andres of Medina and Lisa Buckhaus of Hankinson. Top elementary winners were Austin Bladow of Hankinson and Grace Neameyer of Mt. Pleasant.

The top five place winners in each division were:

  • High school boys – Andres; Spencer Brockman, North Sargent; James Nadeau, Dunseith; Isaac Poitra, Dunseith; and Dominic Bendickson, Griggs County Central.
  • High school girls – Buckhaus, Hankinson; Hunter Schroeder, Dunseith; Deena Monson, Griggs County Central; Ashlynn Stirling, Hankinson; Danielle Schuler, Wilton; and Theresia Thompson, Hankinson.
  • Middle school boys – Dawson McKeever, North Sargent; Race Kath, Hankinson; Michael McKenna, North Sargent; Eric Salvesen, Griggs County Central; and Dylan Pearson, Wahpeton.
  • Middle school girls – Alicia Biewer, Hankinson; Kate Loewen, Hankinson; Olivia Waswick, North Sargent; Kailee Klein, Wahpeton; and Mary Goroski, Wahpeton.
  • Elementary boys – Bladow; Ryan Kath, Hankinson; Gage Schuh, Wilton; Tavon Stadler, Griggs County Central; Malachi Appel, Twin Buttes; and Brayden Wehseler, North Sargent.
  • Elementary girls – Neameyer; Kinley Hetletved, Wilton; Taryn Schurhamer, Wilton; Melonie Lee, Barnes County North; Lauryn Hibl, Wahpeton.


Important Dates in June

Here are some dates to remember in June. North Dakota anglers are reminded of the free fishing weekend June 7-8.

Resident anglers may fish that weekend without a license, except for paddlefish. All other fishing regulations apply.

Also, the application deadline for the 2014 deer gun and muzzleloader season is June 4. Applicants can visit the Game and Fish Department’s website at to submit a lottery application online, or to print an application for mailing. Paper applications will also be available at Game and Fish offices, county auditors and license vendors. You can also apply by calling 800-406-6409.


Ash Borer, Gypsy Moth Monitoring Continues

Each year, the North Dakota Forest Service cooperates with the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service and North Dakota Department of Agriculture to implement early detection trapping efforts for the emerald ash borer and gypsy moth, both pests of potentially great significance to overall forest resources in North Dakota.

The emerald ash borer was first detected in Michigan in 2002, and has since quickly spread to 22 states and two Canadian provinces (as of March 2014), killing tens of millions of ash trees.

Gypsy moths have been in the United States for nearly 150 years, since an unintentional release in Massachusetts. They feed on a variety of hosts, preferring the economically and ecologically important oak species.

Neither of these destructive pests are currently found in North Dakota, according to Aaron Bergdahl, forest health specialist for the state Forest Service. Stressing the importance of continued monitoring programs, Bergdahl said that in 2014, both gypsy moth and emerald ash borer traps will be placed in areas that are categorized as having a greater risk of invasive tree pest introduction.

Both pests spread rather slowly on their own, but can spread quickly due to inadvertent human transport. Thus, high risk areas include population centers, recreation areas, rest stops and other places where people may bring firewood harboring ash borer larvae or materials that may carry gypsy moth eggs.

Early detection of these tree pests will provide a broader set of options for management and possible eradication of the insects. People can help delay the introduction of these pests to North Dakota by not transporting firewood long distances, and encouraging those who visit the state to buy local firewood and to burn the firewood where they buy it.

More information about the emerald ash borer and gypsy moth is available at, or the state Department of Agriculture website,



Boat North Dakota Course

Children ages 12-15 who want to operate a boat or personal watercraft this summer must take the state’s boating basics course.

State law requires youngsters ages 12-15 to pass the course before they operate a boat or personal watercraft with at least a 10 horsepower motor. 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. Two commercial providers also offer the course online, and links to those sites are found on the Department’s website at

While the home-study course is free, students will be charged a fee to take it online. The online provider charges for the course, not the Game and Fish Department. The fee stays with the online provider.

Upon completion of the online 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 contact Nancy Boldt, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, by email at; or call 701-328-6300.


Staff Notes

Arizona native Rob Volack has been hired as the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s warden pilot. He was a pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps for the past seven years.

Volack has a professional aeronautics degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.



Game and Fish Sponsors Earth Day Project

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

Each member of a school, Girl Scout, Boy Scout, 4-H club or youth organization who participates in cleaning up public lands through May will receive a specifically designed conservation patch.

Last winter the Game and Fish Department sponsored a contest for students ages 6-18 to design a North Dakota Earth Day Patch. Winners receiving a pair of 10x42 binoculars in the three age categories were Emily Ehlert of Williston (6-9), Katie Ely of Bismarck (10-13), and Peyton Nielsen of Surrey (14-18). Ehlert’s design was chosen the contest winner, and will be used on this year’s Earth Day patch.

Groups participating in the Earth Day project are encouraged to 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.

Interested participants are asked to contact Pat Lothspeich, Department outreach biologist, at 701-328-6332 to receive a reporting form for their project.