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2020 Enforcement Division Review

Authors and Contributors
Scott Winkelman

Another year has come and gone, and what a year it was for all walks of life, including the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s enforcement division. From dealing with daily COVID-19 challenges, increased numbers of hunters and anglers and changes in technology, game wardens continued to do what they always do without pause, providing exceptional service to North Dakotans.

I sincerely appreciate the effort and contributions of the officers and staff. The men and women who choose to sacrifice their weekends, holidays, season openers and family time to safeguard North Dakota’s natural resources and ensure the safety of those who recreate outdoors certainly deserve a huge thank you.

One of the new pieces of technology implemented and finalized in 2020 was a new records management system. This new system was built specifically for the needs of the enforcement division and is providing new and interesting data that will assist in developing and improving enforcement operations.

While we have always been able to report the number of citations issued in a year, that number pales in comparison to the number of people contacted by a game warden where no citation was issued. These license checks, bag inspections, boating safety inspections, public safety calls, wildlife issues, permits, the list goes on, are as important as the number of citations and are now tracked.

For instance, between September 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, there were 11,937 contacts made by game wardens, and 1,061 citations written. This information shows more accurately the impact game wardens have instead of looking at citation numbers alone.

With this information now readily available, we will continue to develop and implement enforcement strategies and operations for the benefit of North Dakota’s wildlife and those who enjoy the outdoors.

2020 Summary of Violations
Big Game
Illegal taking/possession of big game 72
Failure to wear fluorescent orange 15
Tagging violations 17
CWD violations 9
Killing wrong species or sex 9
Shining big game 11
Other big game violations 37
Total Big Game 170
Small Game
Using gun able to hold more than 3 shells 96
Hunting in closed season 28
Illegal possession/taking 4
Exceeding limit 68
Failure to leave identification or sex of game 33
Killing wrong sex or species 8
Wanton waste 4
Hunting in unharvested field 11
Other small game violations 125
Total Small Game 377
Use of unlicensed or unnumbered boat 138
Failure to display boat registration 108
Operating without lights at night 64
Inadequate number of PFDs 261
Water skiing violations 20
Reckless or negligent operation 5
Operating vessel under influence/intoxicated 10
Other boating violations 53
Total Boating 659
Exceeding limit 65
Fishing in closed/restricted area 22
Fishing with illegal bait 14
Paddlefish violations 3
ANS violations 84
Other fishing violations 127
Total Fishing 315
Use/possession of illegal snares 8
Shining (using artificial light) 4
Harassing furbearers with motor vehicle 6
Other furbearer violations 3
Total Furbearer 21
Use of motor vehicle off established trail 47
Hunting on posted land without permission 72
Aid in concealment of unlawful game 8
Loaded firearm in motor vehicle 59
440 yard violation 2
Littering 28
Other general violations 10
Total General 226
Hunting/fishing/trapping without proper license 182
Failure to carry license on person 306
Misrepresentation on license or application 12
Other licensing violations 15
Total Licensing 515
Wildlife Management Areas/Refuge
Failure to obey posted regulations 57
Tree stand violations 4
Possession of glass beverage containers 16
Camping violations 8
Prohibited uses of motor vehicles 8
PLOTS access violations 60
Other WMA/refuge violations 12
Total Wildlife Management Areas/Refuge 165
Possession of controlled substance 33
Possession of drug paraphernalia 25
Open container 7
Minor in possession 46
Criminal trespass 76
Other miscellaneous 40
Total Miscellaneous 227
Commercial violations 12
Total Commercial 12
Grand Total 2,668

Incidents 2020 – 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 stranded angler.)

  • Ramsey – 200
  • McKenzie – 197
  • Burleigh – 190
  • McLean – 173
  • Williams – 168
  • Morton – 154
  • Richland – 152
  • Stark – 133
  • Cass – 119
  • Bottineau – 113

Citations 2020 – Top 10 Counties

  • Ramsey – 320
  • Williams – 163
  • McKenzie – 128
  • Stutsman – 108
  • Burleigh – 106
  • Benson – 92
  • Bottineau – 88
  • McLean – 88
  • Mercer – 83
  • Dickey – 78

Johnston Named Wildlife Officer of the Year

Kylor Johnston, North Dakota Game and Fish Department district game warden stationed in Hazen, is the state’s 2020 Wildlife Officer of the Year. Johnston was honored recently by 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 Scott Winkelman said Johnston’s district contains a variety of wildlife and recreational areas including the state’s largest reservoir, Lake Sakakawea.

“Warden Johnston’s district includes some of the busiest and best open water fishing in North Dakota, as anglers from across the state and country travel to fish the Garrison Dam Tailrace and Lake Sakakawea,” Winkelman said. “Late-season ducks and geese are also highly sought, along with pheasant, grouse and deer. He excels at finding evidence on violations and pushing until the case is complete.”