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Matters of Opinion

Authors and Contributors

Terry Steinwand

In a feature on fishing in this issue of North Dakota OUTDOORS, Greg Power, Department fisheries chief, is quoted as saying, “Mother Nature’s pendulum does swing wildly and rapidly in North Dakota.”

He was referencing the many factors that influence the state’s game fish to cooperate, and sometimes not, with anglers.

His remark, I feel, works on a number of levels, especially in reference to our weather here on the Northern Plains. This winter thus far, compared to last, is wildly different.

Last winter, Mother Nature’s pendulum swung hard in the direction of snow, which she delivered in abundance early on. Wildlife managers and others who are concerned with the welfare of North Dakota’s wildlife, especially during these times of limited habitat on the landscape, worried how animals were coping under those conditions.

While we’ve all endured our share of bitter cold days this winter, the amount of snow we’ve received is hardly comparable. (Note: Of course, as I write this, it’s snowing in southwestern North Dakota, with several inches predicted.) Knowing that, we’re hoping that North Dakota’s wildlife – deer, pheasants and other animals – are having an easier go of it this winter.

Of course, winter has a big influence on the number of animals we find on the landscape come fall during the state’s hunting season.

In this issue, readers will find the 2017 lottery drawing results for deer, wild turkeys and pronghorn. What you’ll see is that the number of deer gun licenses made available to hunters have increased the last two years. While they are not where many hunters and wildlife managers would like to see them, the population is trending upwards, and a decent winter will help the trend continue.

Often in this space, I talk about the importance of having wildlife habitat on the landscape and our continued efforts to establish more. Game and Fish Department wildlife managers have been tackling this issue for years and we’ll continue to do so down the road, as we understand how important quality habitat is to helping animals survive, especially during the state’s leanest months.

Also of note in this issue is the question and answer article that deals with applying online for lottery licenses for North Dakota’s game species, which include turkeys, deer, pronghorn, swans, elk, moose and sheep.

Considerable thought, planning and many conversations went in to the Game and Fish Department’s plan to require all lottery applications be submitted online. What’s encouraging when considering this move is that the majority of regular lottery applications, as well as the majority of gratis applications, were submitted electronically in 2017.

While we understand that this is nothing new for many of our hunters and landowners, there will likely be some questions. To help with those questions and this transition, refer to the question and answer segment here. The two pages of information will also explain the benefits to phasing out all paper applications.

Going with a glass half-full attitude, I think I can almost see spring from here. Considering that we haven’t received much snow, maybe Mother Nature will grace us with some timely precipitation in the form of late-winter, wet snow and ample spring rains.

I know that many of our fishing waters, pastures, crop fields, duck sloughs and nesting habitats could use the boost. Yet, before winter closes its doors, enjoy the opportunities North Dakota’s great outdoors offers us this time of year.