North Dakota’s 2014 deer season is set, with 48,000 licenses available to hunters this fall, 11,500 fewer than last year, and the lowest number since 1980.
Randy Kreil, wildlife chief for the State Game and Fish Department, said even after five years of reducing gun licenses, deer populations are still below management objectives in most units. Currently, only units 3F1, 3F2 and 4F meet or exceed management goals.
“Harvest and survey data indicate deer numbers are still declining, especially in the eastern part of the state,” Kreil said.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is once again celebrating Earth Day by sponsoring clean-up days on public-owned or managed lands.
While Earth Day was recognized April 22, 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.
Results from North Dakota’s spring sage grouse survey indicate the number of strutting males observed remains well below management objectives. Therefore, the sage grouse hunting season will remain closed in 2014.
Aaron Robinson, North Dakota Game and Fish Department upland game bird biologist, said biologists counted a record low 31 males on six active strutting grounds. Last year, 50 males were counted on 11 active leks in the southwest.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department and Townsquare Media are sponsoring the Missouri River SPLASH – a recreation and boating safety event for everyone who enjoys the Missouri River.
The event is Thursday, May 15 in Mandan from 3-6 p.m. at Moritz Sport and Marine. Displays, hands-on activities, demonstrations, regulations, registrations and prizes are included.
The event is free, and people of all ages are invited to attend.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department conducted its annual spring mule deer survey in April, and results indicate western North Dakota’s mule deer population has increased 19 percent from last year.
Bruce Stillings, big game supervisor, said the increase is a result of less severe winters the past couple of years, no harvest of antlerless deer in 2012 and 2013, and improved fawn production. The 2014 index is only 7 percent below the long-term average.
One glance at a lake or river and you already notice several boats on the water. With that mind, boat owners are reminded that properly-fitted life jackets should be worn and not used as a comfortable seat cushion.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department boat and water safety coordinator Nancy Boldt said water temperatures in spring are extremely cold, and sudden immersion can cause serious problems.
Outdoor enthusiasts are reminded that the North Dakota Wildlife Federation’s Report All Poachers auction is Saturday, May 3 at the North Dakota State Fair Center’s 4-H hall in Minot.
Confiscated hunting and fishing equipment up for auction can be viewed between 12-2 p.m., immediately followed by the auction. Items include more than 70 rifles, shotguns and handguns; fishing equipment; bows; knives; spotlights; coolers and other miscellaneous merchandise.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program is accepting registrations for the annual summer workshop Aug. 8-10 at Lake Metigoshe State Park, Bottineau.
Enrollment is limited to participants age 18 or older. Workshop fees of $150 cover instruction, program materials, use of equipment, all meals and lodging.
Participants can choose from more than 30 programs, including archery, canoeing, firearms, fly-fishing, kayaking, plant identification and trapping.
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.
More than 500 archers registered to compete in the North Dakota National Archery in the Schools Program state tournament April 11-12 in Bismarck.
Jeff Long, NASP coordinator for the State Game and Fish Department, 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, while noting 517 registered this year, up more than 20 percent from last year.
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.