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Warden checking licenses in the field

2016 Enforcement Division Review

Authors and Contributors
Robert Timian

Game and Fish violations handled by state game wardens are many and varied, from hunting and fishing without a license, to boating under the influence.

The number of violations handled by North Dakota Game and Fish Department wardens were down in 2016 (2,286 violations) compared to 2015 (2,428 violations).

Under the circumstances, this doesn’t surprise me.

At full force, the Game and Fish Department’s enforcement division has 29 district game wardens stationed across the state. In 2016, the division was short three wardens for much of the year.

When a warden is hired by the Game and Fish Department, successful applicants aren’t just assigned to a station and turned loose. New wardens must first complete 12 weeks at the Law Enforcement Training Academy in Bismarck, followed by a minimum of 12 weeks of internal field training. Basically, from the day a warden is hired, it takes roughly six months before that warden is working his or her assigned district on their own.

So, over an extended period of time in 2016, essentially three enforcement districts in the state were not fully staffed.

Also in 2016, the Game and Fish Department dedicated three game wardens, working on a rotating basis, to the Dakota Access Pipeline protest response in Morton County. This assignment, which takes wardens from their districts for five days or so at a time, began in October and continues yet today.

Through the end of January, state game wardens had contributed more than 3,900 regular and overtime hours to the protest response, with salary and operational costs of more than $300,000 that will be reimbursed by the state.

While enforcement of game and fish related laws is the primary duty of the Department’s game wardens, these men and women provide assistance to other law enforcement efforts within the state, especially when assistance is related to public safety.

This has always been the way, with officers helping each other when summoned, regardless of agency or department, especially in areas away from major population centers where law enforcement resources are limited.

No matter the circumstances, Game and Fish Department enforcement division will continue to do the best it can with the resources provided for the state’s hunters, anglers and general public.

This year, lawmakers are gathered in Bismarck at the 65th Legislative Assembly. As I write this in late January, there are 28 hunting and fishing related bills that, depending on their outcome, determine how the Game and Fish Department does business for the next two years.

While the legislative process can seem intimidating to some people, it is designed to allow public input.

Understanding this, it is important for hunters, anglers and other recreationists to make their views known. OUTDOORS readers have a vested interested in the process, and a responsibility to monitor legislation bills and provide informed input to local legislators.

2016 Summary of Violations
Hunting in closed season2
Failure to wear fluorescent orange4
Tagging violations18
Exceeding limit6
Killing wrong species or sex4
Other big game violations11
Using gun able to hold more than 3 shells60
Hunting in closed season4
Illegal possession/taking2
Exceeding limit24
Failure to leave identification or sex of game38
Killing wrong sex or species2
Nontoxic shot violation4
Failure to carry federal waterfowl stamp13
Hunting in unharvested fields10
Other small game violations38
Use of unlicensed or unnumbered boat41
Failure to display boat registration63
Operating without lights at night45
Inadequate number of PFDs228
Water skiing violations57
Reckless or negligent operation4
Operating vessel under influence/intoxicated21
Other boating violations80
Fishing with excessive lines57
Exceeding limit119
Fishing in closed/restricted area7
Failure to attend lines16
No identification on fish house5
ANS violation115
Paddlefish violations2
Other fishing violations55
Shining (using artificial light)11
Illegal possession/taking3
Harassing furbearers with motor vehicle4
Other furbearer violations15
Use of motor vehicle off established trail10
Use of motor vehicle in restricted area45
Harassing wildlife with motor vehicle1
Hunting on posted land without permission41
Hunting before/after legal hours5
Wanton waste4
Aid in concealment of unlawful game1
Hunting in wrong unit/closed area3
Loaded firearm in motor vehicle50
Discharge of firearm within/on motor vehicle2
440 yard violation4
Other general violations19
Failure to sign/affix stamp19
Hunting/fishing/trapping without proper license226
Failure to carry license on person317
Misrepresentation on license or application41
Other licensing violations19
Failure to obey posted regulations59
Tree stand violations13
Baiting on WMA1
Prohibited uses of motor vehicles16
Unlawful use of firearms6
Other WMA/refuge violations4
Possession of controlled substance8
Possession of drug paraphernalia6
Open container14
Minor in possession34
Criminal trespass14
Other miscellaneous15
Other commercial5

Incidents 2016 – Top 10 Counties

(An incident is defined as any situation that requires a response from a game warden. It does not have to be a crime, the situation could be, for example, a lost hunter.)

  • Burleigh – 315
  • McLean – 225
  • Morton – 216
  • Cass – 199
  • Richland – 199
  • Ward – 191
  • McKenzie – 176
  • Ramsey – 175
  • Williams – 153
  • Mountrail – 127

Citations 2016 – Top 10 Counties

  • Ramsey – 199
  • McKenzie – 184
  • Williams – 159
  • Burleigh – 138
  • McLean – 106
  • Benson – 89
  • Mountrail – 80
  • Morton – 73
  • Ward – 64
  • Sargent – 62