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2021 Enforcement Division Review

Authors and Contributors
Scott Winkelman

It was another fantastic year for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s enforcement division in 2021. There were numerous challenges encountered by the men and women game wardens, but they continued to do what they do best, face those challenges and find ways to succeed. Staffing issues and open districts creating an increased workload, supply shortages, and learning and enforcing new laws and regulations were all met head on by some of the best, most professional law enforcement officers in the state. I cannot thank the game wardens and staff enough for all their hard work and exceptional service to those who enjoy North Dakota’s fish and wildlife.

One of the highlights of 2021 for the enforcement division included all the positive, impactful contacts game wardens and staff made throughout the year. Daily, face to face contact and communication is so important for the Game and Fish Department, hunters, anglers, trappers, recreational boaters and landowners.

Game Wardens made 51,110 field contacts in 2021. This number does not include all the people met and visited with at sport shows, state fair, local wildlife club meetings, school programs, hunter safety classes, trunk or treats, or Christmas toy drives. Sure, issuing citations to protect our resources and make sure everyone stays safe is an important part of the job, but so are building relationships, answering questions and promoting North Dakota and its tremendous outdoor opportunities.

Hopefully, many of you have enjoyed the excellent articles written by Department game wardens starting in 2021. The Behind the Badge stories are found on the Department’s website ( and Facebook page, providing a glimpse into the life of a game warden and things they are doing in their communities. If not, I encourage you to take a look and learn more about things being done in the enforcement division, both now and into the future.

Andrew Dahlgren, North Dakota Game and Fish Department district game warden stationed in Edgeley, is the state’s 2021 Wildlife Officer of the Year and Boating Officer of the Year.

Scott Winkelman (left), Andrew Dahlgren (right)
Scott Winkelman (left), Andrew Dahlgren (right)

Dahlgren 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 Dahlgren’s district is one of the busier outdoor recreation use areas in southeastern North Dakota.

“Warden Dahlgren’s district includes numerous lakes and public use areas that provide hunting, fishing and boating opportunities. The varied opportunities attract a plethora of outdoor enthusiasts to the area,” Winkelman said. “He is an accomplished investigator who thoroughly follows up on complaints and reports of possible illegal activities within his district.”

While Dahlgren spends a considerable amount of time in summer patrolling waters within his own district, Winkelman said he is often found assisting other wardens with boat patrols and ramp checks on neighboring lakes and reservoirs.

“Warden Dahlgren is very skilled in the detection, apprehension and prosecution of boaters who are operating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” Winkelman said. “He has made numerous arrests for operating a vessel while intoxicated using techniques he has developed from his own patrol experiences. He serves the Department and citizens of North Dakota in an outstanding manner.”

Violation Count
Illegal taking/possession of big game 10
Failure to wear fluorescent orange 17
Tagging violations 18
CWD violations 20
Killing wrong species or sex 12
Shining big game 7
Other big game violations 63
Total 147
Violation Count
Using gun able to hold more than 3 shells 70
Hunting before/after legal hours 3
Illegal possession/taking 3
Exceeding limit 16
Failure to leave identification or sex of game 62
Killing wrong sex or species 4
Wanton waste 10
Other small game violations 75
Total 243
Violation Count
Use of unlicensed or unnumbered boat 63
Failure to display boat registration 92
Operating without lights at night 62
Inadequate number of PFDs 247
Water skiing violations 21
Reckless or negligent operation 20
Operating vessel under influence/intoxicated 8
Other boating violations 333
Total 846
Violation Count
Exceeding limit 81
Fishing in closed/restricted area 24
Fishing with illegal bait 29
Paddlefish violations 3
ANS violations 137
Other fishing violations 132
Total 406
Violation Count
Use/possession of illegal snares 1
Shining (using artificial light) 7
Harassing furbearers with motor vehicle 2
Other furbearer violations 8
Total 18
Violation Count
Use of motor vehicle off established trail 55
Hunting on posted land without permission 58
Aid in concealment of unlawful game 1
Loaded firearm in motor vehicle 48
440-yard violation 5
Littering 20
Hunting in unharvested field 16
Other general violations 6
Total 209
Violation Count
Hunting/fishing/trapping without proper license 213
Failure to carry license on person 256
Misrepresentation on license or application 15
Other licensing violations 9
Total 493
Violation Count
Failure to obey posted regulations 50
Tree stand violations 7
Possession of glass beverage containers 4
Camping violations 1
Prohibited use of motor vehicles 8
PLOTS access violations 8
Other WMA/refuge violations 4
Total 82
Violation Count
Possession of controlled substance 30
Possession of drug paraphernalia 24
Open container 12
Minor in possession 30
Criminal trespass 71
Other miscellaneous 15
Total 182
Violation Count
Commercial violations 6
Total 6

Grand Total - 2,632

Game warden checking an ice angler's licensing



(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.)

  • Richland – 165
  • Cass – 158
  • Morton – 148
  • Mountrail – 139
  • Mercer – 122


  • Ramsey – 399
  • Williams – 132
  • Benson – 125
  • McLean – 107
  • Bottineau – 92
  • LaMoure – 92
  • Mercer – 91
  • McKenzie – 89
  • Pembina – 88
  • Stark – 78