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Buffaloberry Patch

Authors and Contributors

Greg Freeman

New Licenses Needed

North Dakota anglers, trappers and hunters are reminded that new licenses for the 2019-20 season are required starting April 1.

Licenses can be purchased online. Once the license is processed, users will have the option to print a hard copy and/or download the license to a smart phone or mobile device, which is helpful when asked to show proof of license while hunting or fishing in rural areas that lack cellular service.

Licenses can also be purchased at more than 140 vendor locations throughout the state, or by calling 800-406-6409. The 2019-20 small game, fishing and furbearer licenses are effective April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020.

New this year, hunters and anglers will be given the opportunity to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor. By clicking the link after purchasing a license, users will be directed to the North Dakota Department of Transportation donor registry. For more information regarding donor registry visit DOT’s website at http://www.dot.nd.gov/divisions/driverslicense/donorregistry.htm, or contact LifeSource directly at 888-5-DONATE.

Hunting and Fishing Expenditure Report Finalized

Hunting and fishing in North Dakota contributed an estimated $2.1 billion in annual input to the state’s economy, according to a recent report by the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at North Dakota State University.

The report, commissioned by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, tracked hunter and angler expenditures for the 2017-18 hunting and fishing seasons.

Game and Fish Department Director Terry Steinwand said the last time the agency commissioned an economic impact study was about six years ago.

“These studies help alert us to any major shifts in hunter and angler activities or participation,” Steinwand said.

Overall, hunters and anglers in North Dakota spent $974.4 million dollars on equipment, vehicles, boats, travel, lodging, food and many other items. These expenditures generated $1.1 billion in secondary economic benefits resulting in gross business volume of $2.1 billion, according to the NDSU researchers.

According to the report, resident hunters and anglers accounted for $846.8 million of total expenditures, while nonresidents contributed $127.6 million. Anglers spent $787.8 million and hunters $186.6 million. Residents spent a total of $486.4 million in rural areas, while nonresidents spent $89.6 million, for a grand total of $576 million – or 59 percent of all spending – in rural areas.

These direct and indirect expenditures from hunters and anglers generated approximately $48.2 million in state-level tax collection.

“We know that hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation are an important quality of life factor for many North Dakotans,” Steinwand said. “This report reinforces the notion that economic activity associated with our outdoors is significant as well.”

Compared to spending in the 2011-12 season, total spending by resident hunters and anglers increased by $290.2 million, and by $41.4 million for nonresidents.

Read the complete report here.

Game and Fish Seeks Habitat Contractors

Contractors able to perform habitat work on Private Land Open To Sportsmen program lands across the state are invited to add their businesses to a database that the North Dakota Game and Fish Department can provide to landowners looking to develop wildlife habitat on their property.

PLOTS is an agreement between the private landowner and Game and Fish Department to open private land to walking hunting access. These contracts can involve establishing or enhancing wildlife habitat, such as grass plantings and food plots on PLOTS lands. However, if the landowner does not have the necessary equipment to perform the work, a contractor is usually needed.

“In some parts of the state, there is a shortage of contractors, or equipment, to perform habitat work,” said Kevin Kading, Department private land section leader. “The bulk of the habitat work is planting native and introduced grasses, which requires a tractor, operator and a no-till drill or native grass drill. Other work can include wildlife food plots and tree plantings.”

Interested contractors or businesses can add their name to the list here. Providing company information does not guarantee any future work, but as projects come about, the Department will refer landowners to interested contractors.

2018 Bighorn Sheep, Moose and Elk Harvests

Harvest statistics released by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department show overall hunter success during the 2018 season for bighorn sheep was 100 percent, 92 percent for moose and 65 percent for elk.

The Department issued two bighorn sheep licenses and auctioned one. All three hunters harvested a bighorn ram.

The Department issued 329 moose licenses last year. Of that total, 319 hunters harvested 294 animals – 138 bulls and 156 cows/calves. Harvest for each unit follows:

Unit Hunters Bulls Cow/Calf Success Rate
M5 5 3 1 80
M6 14 9 3 86
M8 14 13 0 93
M9 93 34 49 89
M10 107 50 52 95
M11 86 29 51 93

The Department issued 418 elk licenses last year. Of that total, 380 hunters harvested 248 elk – 135 bulls and 113 cows/calves. Harvest for each unit follows:

Unit Hunters Bulls Cow/Calf Success Rate
E1E 57 17 16 58
E1W 37 10 17 73
E2 128 35 35 55
E3 125 52 40 74
E4 22 17 0 77
E6 11 4 5 82

Whooping Crane Migration

Whooping cranes are in the midst of their spring migration and sightings will increase as they make their way into and through North Dakota over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these endangered birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.

Whooping cranes that do make their way through North Dakota are part of a population of about 400 birds that are on their way from wintering grounds at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas to their nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada, a distance of about 2,500 miles.

Whoopers stand about five feet tall and have a wingspan of about seven feet from tip to tip. They are bright white with black wing tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. In flight they extend their long necks straight forward, while their long, slender legs extend out behind the tail. Whooping cranes typically migrate singly, or in groups of 2-3 birds, and may be associated with sandhill cranes.

Other white birds such as snow geese, swans and egrets are often mistaken for whooping cranes. The most common misidentification is pelicans, because their wingspan is similar and they tuck their pouch in flight, leaving a silhouette similar to a crane when viewed from below.

Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them, but record the date, time, location, and the birds' activity. Observers should also look closely for and report colored bands which may occur on one or both legs. Whooping cranes have been marked with colored leg bands to help determine their identity.

Whooping crane sightings should be reported to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices at Lostwood, 701-848-2466, or Long Lake, 701-387-4397, national wildlife refuges; the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, 701-328-6300, or to local game wardens across the state. Reports help biologists locate important whooping crane habitat areas, monitor marked birds, determine survival and population numbers, and identify times and migration routes.


Paddlefish Snagging Season Opener

North Dakota’s paddlefish snagging season opens May 1 and is scheduled to continue through May 21. However, depending on the overall harvest, an early in-season closure may occur with a 24-hour notice issued by the state Game and Fish Department.

Legal snagging hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. One tag per snagger will be issued. Snagging is legal in all areas of the Yellowstone River in North Dakota, and in the area of the Missouri River lying west of the U.S. Highway 85 bridge to the Montana border, excluding that portion from the pipeline crossing (river mile 1,577) downstream to the upper end of the Lewis and Clark Wildlife Management Area (river mile 1,565).

If the season closes early because the harvest cap is reached, an extended snag-and-release-only period will be allowed for up to four days immediately following the early closure, but not to extend beyond May 21. Only snaggers with a current season, unused paddlefish snagging tag are eligible to participate. Only a limited area at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers is open to this extended season snagging opportunity.

Mandatory harvest of all snagged paddlefish is required on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On these days, all paddlefish caught must be kept and tagged immediately. All paddlefish snagged and tagged must be removed from the river by 7 p.m. of each snagging day. Any fish left at the confluence fish cleaning caviar operation after 8 p.m. the day they were snagged will be considered abandoned and the snagger is subject to a fine.

Snag-and-release of all paddlefish is required on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays. Participants during snag-and-release-only days need to have in their possession a current season, unused paddlefish snagging tag. Use or possession of gaffs is prohibited on snag-and-release-only days, and, if it occurs, during the snag-and-release extension period.

All paddlefish snaggers must possess a paddlefish tag in addition to a valid fishing license. Cost of a paddlefish tag is $10 for residents and $25.50 for nonresidents.

Report Bald Eagle Nests

The state Game and Fish Department is asking for help in locating bald eagle nests in North Dakota.

Sandra Johnson, Game and Fish Department conservation biologist, said the Department is looking for locations of nests with eagles present, not individual eagle sightings.

Eagles actively incubate eggs in March and April, and it’s easy to distinguish an eagle nest because of its enormous size. Johnson estimates the state has around 215 active bald eagle nests, possibly more.

Eagle nests are observed in more than three-quarters of the counties in the state, mostly near streams and mid- to large-sized lakes. However, they are also found in unique areas such as shelterbelts surrounded by cropland or pasture.

Nest observations should be reported online, or by email at ndgf@nd.gov.

Observers are asked to not disturb the nests, and to stay away at a safe distance. Johnson said foot traffic may disturb birds, likely causing eagles to leave their eggs or young unattended.

Game and Fish Volunteers Recognized

Volunteer instructors for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department were recognized in February at an annual event in Bismarck.

Shannon Johnson, Fargo, was recognized as hunter education instructor of the year and Steve Goroski, Bismarck, was named archery education instructor of the year.

Longtime volunteers were also recognized for their service to the Game and Fish Department:

  • 30 years – James Boley, Minot; Richard Brewster, Washburn; David Cox, Minot; Douglas Crosby, Williston; Keith Domke, Jamestown; Richard Jorgenson, Devils Lake; Todd Parkman, Hope; Ralph Danuser, Marion; Charles Meikle, Spiritwood; Gary Nilsson, Walhalla.
  • 25 years – Kevin Bishop, Kathryn; Patsy Crooke, Mandan; Mike Cruff, Minot; Charles Deremer, Fargo; Darwin Gebhardt, Lake Elmo, Minn.; Garry Hillier, Thompson; Francis Miller, Mandan; Gregory Odden, Rugby; Allen Schirado, Bismarck; Melvin Siverson, Bowman; Curt Beattie, Hannaford; Jay Grover, Cooperstown; Brad Pierce, Hatton.
  • 20 years – William Bahm, Almont; Stanley Cox, Jamestown; Mark Engen, Anamoose; Mark Entzi, Watford City; Daryl Heid, Center; Matthew Herman, Ashley; Leon Hiltner, Wales; Michael Hinrichs, Bismarck; Lynn Kieper, Bismarck; Curtis Miller, Tioga; Loran Palmer, Wahpeton; Richard Petersen, Bismarck; Craig Roe, Kindred; Douglas Thingstad, Jamestown; Cindie Van Tassel, Breckenridge, Minn.; David Daeley, Maddock; Darryl Duttenhefner, Menoken; Sean Hagan, Walhalla; Jerry Rekow, Ellendale.
  • 15 years – Nathan Fitzgerald, Cooperstown; Gregory Gerou, Wahpeton; Judy Haglund, Garrison; Walter Helfrich, Mandan; Terry Kassian, Wilton; Michael Melaas, Minot; Dustin Neva, Hatton; Dale Patrick, Jamestown; Scott Thorson, Towner; Bruce Baer, Belfield; James Dusek, Grafton; Michael Erickson, Edgeley; Bradley Gregoire, Thompson; David Sardelli, Hebron.
  • 10 years – Mark Berg, Bismarck; Leonna Coutts, Bismarck; Jason Heinz, Rolette; Andrew Majeres, Garrison; Frank Odell, Belfield; Matt Webster, Jamestown; Cassie Felber, Towner; Kevin Harris, Watford City; Petrina Krenzel, Harvey; Jerry Lillis, Lincoln; Roger Norton, Kindred; Mike Redmond, Ray; Joe Tuchscherer, Rugby.

Staff Notes

Jensen Earns North Dakota Award

Bill Jensen, Game and Fish Department big game biologist, received the North Dakota Chapter of The Wildlife Society’s North Dakota Award in February.

The chapter’s most prestigious award is presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession of wildlife management. Jensen’s accomplishments throughout his career include principal investigator on 15 research projects, authorship of more than 30 peer reviewed articles, devotion to mentorship, and more than 30 years of public service.

Power and Slominski Honored

Greg Power, Game and Fish Department fisheries chief, and Aaron Slominski, Department fisheries biologist, were recognized in February at the Dakota Chapter of the American Fisheries Society meeting in Fargo.

Power, who started with Game and Fish in 1986 and was named fisheries chief in 2006, received the Robert L. Hanten Distinguished Professional Service Award.

Slominski, who started with Game and Fish full-time in 2013 as a district fisheries biologist in Williston, received the Dr. David W. Willis Outstanding Young Professional Award.

Top Whoppers – Club Applications for 2018

  • WALLEYE – 15-13, Missouri River (state record); 15-1, Missouri River; 13-15, Missouri River; 13-1, Lake Sakakawea; 12-12, Missouri River.
  • NORTHERN PIKE – 30-14, Lake Sakakawea; 28-3, Lake Sakakawea; 27-7, Missouri River; 26-0, Lake Sakakawea; 25-8, Lake Oahe.
  • YELLOW PERCH – 2-9, Irvine-Alice Complex; 2-5, Irvine-Alice Complex; 2-4, Clear Lake; 2-3, Irvine-Alice Complex; 2-3, Devils Lake.
  • SMALLMOUTH BASS – 5-4, Lake Ashtabula; 4-14, New Johns Lake; 4-10, West Park Lake; 4-9, Lake Ashtabula; 4-5, Lake Ashtabula.
  • RAINBOW TROUT – 11-7, Missouri River; 10-9, Missouri River; 10-1, Missouri River; 7-4, Missouri River; 6-8, Missouri River.
  • LARGEMOUTH BASS – 6-15, Nelson Lake; 6-9, Nelson Lake; 6-2, Heart River; 6-0, Nelson Lake
  • PADDLEFISH – 116-0, Missouri River; 105-0, Yellowstone River; 104-0, Yellowstone River; 103-0, Yellowstone River; 103-0, Missouri River.
  • SAUGER – 5-12, Missouri River.
  • CRAPPIE – 1-15, Nelson Lake; 1-14, Lake Oahe; 1-14, Jamestown Reservoir; 1-14, Devils Lake; 1-14, Lake LaMoure.
  • DRUM – 13-1, James River.
  • GOLDEYE – 3-0, McClusky Canal.
  • LAKE WHITEFISH – 6-1, Missouri River; 5-0, Missouri River; 4-13, Missouri River.
  • CHANNEL CATFISH – 22-8, Red River; 20-2, Red River; 19-8, Red River; 19-6, Red River; 17-14, Lake Sakakawea.
  • BURBOT – 12-4, Missouri River.
  • BUFFALO – 34 pounds, 8 ounces, Missouri River; 32-0, Missouri River; 30-1, Lake Sakakawea; 28-3, Trenton Lake; 28-0, Missouri River.
  • COMMON CARP – 29-0, Missouri River; 28-15, Missouri River; 26-6, Missouri River; 24-10, Trenton Lake; 22-3, Missouri River.
  • CUTTHROAT TROUT – 7-6, Missouri River.
  • WHITE BASS – 3-10, Devils Lake; 3-10, Devils Lake; 3-6, Lake Audubon; 3-5, Devils Lake; 3-4, Devils Lake.