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.
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.”
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.
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 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.
Year one of a multi-year walleye tagging study on the Missouri River and Lake Oahe is complete, and returns are providing biologists with valuable information.
Scott Gangl, North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries management section leader, said more than 9,100 fish were tagged in 2013, the first year of the four-year study, and nearly 1,400 tag numbers were turned in by anglers.
The State Game and Fish Department invites all North Dakota schools participating in the National Archery in the Schools Program to register for the annual state tournament. The 2014 tournament is April 11-12 at the VFW Sports Center in Bismarck.
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.
Anglers and hunters are reminded to be wary of ground conditions when traveling to and from a favorite fishery or hunting location.
Greg Power, fisheries chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said with fishing good statewide, many anglers are taking advantage of late-season ice and early-season shore fishing.
“However, travel can be difficult this time of year with the soft conditions,” Power said. “We urge anglers to use common sense when conditions are likely to cause problems with township roads and access points.”
Whooping cranes are in the midst of their spring migration and sightings will increase as they make their way through North Dakota over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.