The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual bighorn sheep survey revealed a minimum of 297 bighorn sheep in western North Dakota. The 2012 count was second highest on record and 5 percent above last year’s survey.
In total, biologists counted 87 rams, 156 ewes and a record 54 lambs. Not included are approximately 30 bighorn sheep in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Big game biologist Brett Wiedmann said the northern badlands population was the highest on record, but the southern badlands herds declined slightly.
The next guide and outfitter written examination is May 11 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.
North Dakota’s 2013 bighorn sheep auction license sold for a record $75,000 at the March 23 Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation annual meeting in Bloomington, Minn. The previous high of $50,000 was set in 2007.
In addition, a 5 percent conservation fee for all auction licenses generated an additional $3,750 from the sale of North Dakota’s license.
North Dakota’s auction license allows the winning bidder the rare privilege of pursuing a North Dakota bighorn on a self-guided hunt.
North Dakota’s spring turkey season opens Saturday, April 13 and continues through May 19.
Hunters are reminded a 2013-14 hunting license is required, as last year’s 2012-13 licenses expired March 31. In addition to the spring turkey license, hunters must have a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate, and a general game and habitat license. Also, hunters ages 16 and older must possess a small game license, or combination license.
All spring turkey licenses for 2013 have been issued.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department advisory board meeting for District 3 is scheduled April 15 at the Fire Hall in Esmond. District 3 includes Benson, Cavalier, Eddy, Ramsey, Rolette and Towner counties.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m., and is hosted by the Buffalo Lake Wildlife Club. At 6 p.m., Game and Fish along with other conservation partners, will hold an informational session for landowners interested in qualifying land for the Conservation Reserve Program general signup May 20-June 14. A short formal presentation will begin at 6:30.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department invites landowners interested in qualifying land for the next Conservation Reserve Program general signup to attend an informational session held prior to the upcoming district advisory board meetings.
Eight district advisory board meetings are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. the week of April 15-18. At 6 p.m. before each meeting, Game and Fish along with other conservation partners, will discuss options with producers to enroll land for the CRP general signup May 20-June 14. A short formal presentation will begin at 6:30.
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 2013 tournament is April 12-13 at the VFW Sports Center in Bismarck.
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.
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.
Wildlife, shooting, civic and fraternal organizations are urged to submit an application for the Encouraging Tomorrow’s Hunters program, a State Game and Fish Department grant program developed to assist in recruitment of the next generation of hunters and shooters.
Grant funds will help cover event expenses, including promotional printing; event memorabilia such as shirts, caps or vests; ammunition and targets, and eye and ear protection.
Even though bald eagle nests in North Dakota are more common today than in the past, the State Game and Fish Department is asking for help in documenting locations.
Sandra Johnson, Game and Fish Department conservation biologist, emphasizes the department is looking for locations of nests with eagles present, not individual eagle sightings. “March and April is the best time to see an eagle nest, as eagles are actively incubating eggs,” Johnson said. “It may become difficult later in spring to see the nest because of leaves beginning to grow on trees.”
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 2013-14 licenses are effective April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.
Licenses can be purchased online by accessing the online services link at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov.