The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual midwinter waterfowl survey in early January indicated 71,500 birds were in the state.
Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird biologist, said an estimated 40,700 Canada geese were observed on the Missouri River, and another 12,000 were scattered on Nelson Lake. Lake Sakakawea, declared iced-over on Dec. 14, had no geese on the lake itself. Szymanski said after summarizing the numbers, a total of 52,700 Canada geese and 18,700 mallards were tallied statewide.
The state Game and Fish Department is offering 5,880 wild turkey licenses for the spring hunting season, a decrease of 50 from last year. The decrease is a result of poor production and chick recruitment.
Two of the 22 hunting units have slightly more spring licenses than in 2013, while 16 remain the same. Unit 21 (most of Hettinger and Adams counties) is again closed in 2014 due to lack of turkeys in the unit.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department hunter education instructors are invited to attend one of four regional workshops scheduled in 2014.
The workshops are Jan. 25 at the Pizza Ranch in Grand Forks; Feb. 15 at the Ramada Grand Dakota Lodge in Dickinson; March 15 at the Holiday Inn in Fargo; and March 29 at the Riverside Holiday Inn in Minot.
Conference invites, workshop topics and registration information will be mailed out to all certified instructors. Instructors are asked to preregister by returning the registration form.
The state Game and Fish Department’s annual Earth Day awareness campaign is accepting entries for design of a 2014 Earth Day patch. North Dakota students ages 6-18 are eligible to participate. The deadline to submit entries is March 15.
The Game and Fish Department will announce a winner in three age categories – 6-9, 10-13, and 14-18. Each winner will receive a pair of 10x42 binoculars. The final patch design will be chosen from the three winners.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program has openings available for a three-day workshop Feb. 21-23 at Lake Metigoshe State Park, Bottineau.
Ice fishing, darkhouse spearfishing, geocaching, snowshoe making, fur handling, winter birding, snowshoeing and tracking, fly tying, cross-country skiing, winter survival and winter camping are classes available at Lake Metigoshe. Cost of the workshop is $135.
The State Game and Fish Department has scheduled eight public meetings in February to discuss deer management in North Dakota.
Department officials will present an overview of the current deer population and prospects for the future, and look for input on possible options for changes in the way deer licenses are allocated.
A second deer taken from unit 3F2 during the 2013 deer gun season has tested positive for chronic wasting disease.
A hunter shot the adult whitetail buck in western Grant County and submitted the head for testing as part of the hunter-harvested surveillance program. Testing was performed at Michigan State University, and verification of initial tests results are pending from a national lab in Ames, Iowa. In addition, results from the remaining 3F2 samples, as well as all samples from the eastern third of the state, should be known in another month.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will have 172 any-deer bow licenses available to nonresidents in 2014.
The deadline for applying is March 1. A lottery will be held if more applications are received than licenses available. Any remaining licenses after March 1 will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants can apply together as a party. A separate check is required for each application.
North Dakota citizens with an interest in supporting wildlife conservation programs are reminded to look for the Watchable Wildlife checkoff on the state tax form.
The 2013 state income tax form gives wildlife enthusiasts an opportunity to support nongame wildlife like songbirds and birds of prey, while at the same time contributing to programs that help everyone enjoy all wildlife.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department Director Terry Steinwand recently honored a number of employees with performance-based awards. Steinwand presented the following awards at the department’s annual staff meeting Dec. 12.
Gene Van Eeckhout, Jamestown, and Brian Prince, Devils Lake, received the Special Projects award, given to an individual who implemented a successful new project.
Bruce Kreft, conservation biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, received the agency’s Director’s Award for professional excellence during the Department’s annual meeting Dec. 12 in Bismarck.
Terry Steinwand, Game and Fish director, said Kreft is the consummate professional and always represents the department with honor and dignity. “Bruce doesn’t require direction or fanfare, and brings a great attitude to work every day,” Steinwand said.
Courtney Sprenger, North Dakota Game and Fish Department district game warden stationed in Elgin, is the state’s 2013 Wildlife Officer of the Year. Sprenger was honored recently by the Shikar-Safari Club International, a private conservation organization that annually recognizes outstanding wildlife officers in each state.
In a nomination letter sent to Shikar-Safari, chief warden Robert Timian said Sprenger’s district contains a variety of wildlife and recreational areas, which presents many challenges.