The North Dakota Game and Fish Department completed its annual spring mule deer survey in April, and results indicate western North Dakota’s mule deer population has increased 24 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 mule deer during the past three deer hunting seasons, and improved fawn production. The 2015 index is 16 percent higher than the long-term average.
While there are likely 125 more active bald eagle nests in the state than 15 years ago, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department continues to monitor this bird that once flirted with extinction.
Sandra Johnson, Game and Fish conservation biologist, said the department is looking for locations of nests with eagles present, not individual eagle sightings.
Johnson said eagles are actively incubating eggs in March and April, and it’s easy to distinguish an eagle nest because of its enormous size.
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, Overlook, Sullivan and Tobacco Garden in McKenzie County; Van Hook in Mountrail County; and Hofflund Bay and Trenton in Williams County.
Year two of a four-year walleye tagging study on the Missouri River and Lake Oahe is complete, and returns are providing biologists with valuable information.
Paul Bailey, North Dakota Game and Fish Department south central district fisheries supervisor, said nearly 17,000 fish were tagged in 2013 and 2014, the first two years of the study, and more than 3,000 tag numbers were turned in by anglers.
“The study is designed to assess walleye movements, mortality and what proportion of the walleye population is harvested annually by anglers,” Bailey said.
North Dakota’s paddlefish snagging season opens May 1, and the season is scheduled to continue through the end of May. 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.
More than 600 waterfowl carcasses discovered at Nelson Lake in Oliver County in March are a result of avian cholera, a bacteria that is readily spread in areas where waterfowl congregate in large numbers.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is once again celebrating Earth Day by sponsoring clean-up days on public-owned or managed lands.
With Earth Day 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.
The next guide and outfitter written examination is May 16 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.
Nearly 550 archers registered to compete in the North Dakota National Archery in the Schools Program state tournament March 21-22 in Minot.
Winning back-to-back titles in the high school (grades 9-12) and middle school (grades 7-8) divisions were Hankinson and Wahpeton. Taking top honors in the elementary school (grades 4-6) division was Hankinson.
Overall male and female winners were Spencer Brockman of North Sargent and defending champion Lisa Buckhaus of Hankinson.
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. With this year’s conditions, he doesn’t anticipate major widespread fish kills.
As snow geese continue to make their way through the state, hunters are advised to properly identify their target as whooping cranes could potentially be in the same areas.
Whooping cranes are also 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.