The Importance of Species Identification
District Game Warden Mike Sedlacek
A few years ago, I was working a game check station in southeast North Dakota during the waterfowl and pheasant seasons.
The game check had been steady with groups of waterfowl and pheasant hunters coming through and headed back home.
Many game birds and licenses had been checked and towards the end of the allotted time a pickup with four hunters came into my station.
The hunters stated that they had been upland game hunting and had not had very good success during their outing.
The told me that they had only harvested two grouse.
I asked to check their hunting licenses and look at the grouse.
I was told that the grouse were in a bucket in the bed of the pickup, so one of the hunters opened the tailgate and pulled a blue bucket from the pickup.
I looked into the bucket and did not see any grouse like I was told they had harvested.
To my surprise, I observed two western meadowlarks, the state bird of North Dakota, which is classified as a harmless wild bird in North Dakota with no hunting season.
I explained to the hunters that they had made an identification mistake and killed western meadowlarks.
The hunters were somewhat embarrassed by the situation but owned up to the mistake and took the citation without any problems.
This incident should serve as a reminder to all hunters the importance of species identification, no matter what species you are targeting on your next hunt.