Skip to main content - The Official Portal for North Dakota State Government

News Releases

North Dakota Game and Fish Department

North Dakota Game and Fish Department

News Releases

Paddlefish Tags Online

North Dakota’s paddlefish snagging season opens May 1, and snaggers should be aware of the sale and distribution of paddlefish tags.

Paddlefish tags are available for purchase online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website,, at license vendors, and during business hours at Game and Fish Department offices in Bismarck, Dickinson, Jamestown, Devils Lake, Lonetree (Harvey) and Williston.

Snaggers buying tags online have the option to have the tag mailed or can stop at a district office and pick it up during business hours.

Snaggers purchasing a tag at a vendor or having it mailed should plan accordingly and allow for a few days for delivery.

Game and Fish Pays $762,000 in Property Taxes

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently paid more than $762,000 in taxes to counties in which the department owns or leases land. The 2023 in-lieu-of-tax payments are the same as property taxes paid by private landowners.

The Game and Fish Department manages more than 200,000 acres for wildlife habitat and public hunting in 51 counties. The department does not own or manage any land in Traill or Renville counties.

Following is a list of counties and tax payments received.

CountyTax DueCountyTax DueCountyTax Due
Adams207.28Grand Forks21,588.07Pierce3,500.01
Golden Valley160.43Pembina12,593.86Williams8,871.68

Fourth Consecutive Record Count of Bighorn Sheep

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s 2023 bighorn sheep survey, completed by recounting lambs in March, revealed a record 364 bighorn sheep in the grasslands of western North Dakota, up 5% from 2022 and 16% above the five-year average. The count surpassed the previous record of 347 bighorns in 2022.

Altogether, biologists counted 106 rams, 202 ewes and 56 lambs. Not included are approximately 40 bighorn sheep in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and bighorns introduced to the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in 2020.

Big game biologist Brett Wiedmann was pleased to see an increase in the survey for the sixth consecutive year.

The northern badlands population increased 5% from 2022 and was the highest count on record. The southern badlands population dropped to its lowest level since bighorns were reintroduced there in 1966.

“We were encouraged to see a record count of adult rams, and adult ewes and lambs were near record numbers,” Wiedmann said. “Unlike the population declines observed in most other big game species following the severe winter of 2022-23, the increase in the bighorn population was attributable to two factors: higher than expected survival of adults and lambs during the extreme winter conditions of 2022, and better than anticipated lamb production and survival during 2023. Basically, bighorn sheep are incredibly hardy animals that can thrive during North Dakota’s most frigid winters.”

Department biologists count and classify all bighorn sheep in late summer, and then recount lambs the following March as they approach one year of age to determine recruitment.

Currently, about 490 bighorns make up the populations managed by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, National Park Service and the Three Affiliated Tribes Fish and Wildlife Division, just shy of the benchmark of 500 bighorns in the state.

A bighorn sheep hunting season is tentatively scheduled to open in 2024.The status of the season will be determined Sept. 1, following the summer population survey.

Game and Fish issued six licenses in 2023 and all hunters were successful in harvesting a ram.

Advisory Board Meetings Announced

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department Advisory Board will host public meetings this spring at eight locations across the state.

These public meetings, held each spring and fall, provide citizens with an opportunity to discuss fish and wildlife issues and ask questions of their district advisors and agency personnel.


District 3 – Benson, Cavalier, Eddy, Ramsey, Rolette and Towner counties

Date: April 15 – 7 p.m.

Location: Community Center, 38 Forrest St., Rock Lake

Host: Lakeview Seed/AG365

Contact: Brock Mitchell, 701-550-9996

Advisory board member: Edward Dosch, Devils Lake


District 4 – Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh counties

Date: April 16 – 7 p.m.

Location: Good Friends Bar and Café Meeting Room, 220 Towner Ave., Larimore

Host: KEM Roughriders

Contact/advisory board member: Karissa Daws, Michigan, 701-270-1524


District 7 – Burleigh, Emmons, Grant, Kidder, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sheridan and Sioux counties

Date: April 17 – 7 p.m.

Location: City Hall, 146 Main St. E., Hazen

Host: Hazen Sportsmen’s Club 

Contact: Sheldon Cieslak, 701-870-0053

Advisory board member: Jody Sommer, Mandan 


District 2 – Bottineau, Burke, McHenry, Mountrail, Pierce, Renville and Ward counties

Date: April 18 – 7 p.m.

Location: Verendrye Electric, 1225 Hwy 2 Bypass E., Minot

Host: Souris River Basin Longbeards

Contact: D.J. Randolph, 701-720-2134

Advisory board member: Travis Leier, Velva


District 6 – Barnes, Dickey, Foster, Griggs, Logan, LaMoure, McIntosh, Stutsman and Wells counties

Date: April 22 – 7 p.m.

Location: American Legion, 34 First Ave. NE, LaMoure 

Host: James River Sportsman Club

Contact/advisory board member: Cody Sand, Ashley, 701-535-1071


District 5 – Cass, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Steele and Traill counties

Date: April 23 – 7 p.m.

Location: Silver Lake Recreation Area Pavilion, 9571 135th Ave. SE, Forman

Host: Rutland Sportsman Club

Contact: Brian Ciesynski, 701-403-3085

Advisory board member: Doug Madsen, Harwood


District 1 – Divide, McKenzie and Williams counties

Date: April 24 – 7 p.m.

Location: Fairgrounds, 519 53rd St. E., Building C, Williston 

Host: Missouri Basin Bowmen

Contact/advisory board member: Beau Wisness, Keene, 701-421-8814


District 8 – Adams, Billings, Bowman, Dunn, Golden Valley, Hettinger, Slope and Stark counties

Date: April 25 – 7 p.m.

Location: Pheasant Café and Lounge, 206 Brown Ave., Mott

Host: Pheasant Café and Lounge

Contact/advisory board member: Rob Brooks, Rhame, 701-440-8952

Deer Gratis Application Online

Landowners interested in a 2024 deer gratis license must apply online by visiting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, The deadline for applying is June 5.

General deer and muzzleloader lottery applications will be available online in early May, also with a deadline of June 5. 

Gratis applicants who have previously applied online will automatically have their land description forwarded to this year’s application. However, any changes with land descriptions from last year’s application must be made prior to submitting the 2024 application.

Report Bald Eagle Nest Sightings

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

Conservation biologist Sandra Johnson said the department is looking for locations of nests with eagles present, not individual eagle sightings.

Eagles lay eggs in early to mid-March, which hatch about a month later. Johnson said it’s easy to distinguish an eagle nest because of its enormous size.

Nearly 350 active bald eagle nests can be found in 47 of the 53 counties in the state. Historically, Johnson said nests were found along river corridors, but that’s not the case today, as bald eagles will nest in trees in the middle of pastures, fields or anywhere near a food source.

Nest observations should be reported online at the Game and Fish website, Observers are asked not to disturb the nest, and to stay a safe distance away. Johnson said foot traffic may disturb the bird, likely causing the eagle to leave her eggs or young unattended.

Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep Apps Due

Elk, moose and bighorn sheep applications must be submitted online before midnight, March 27.

Applicants can apply by visiting My Account at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website,

Elk, moose and bighorn sheep lottery licenses are issued as once-in-a-lifetime licenses in North Dakota. Hunters who have received a license through the lottery in the past are not eligible to apply for that species again.

CWD Test Results

With the 2023 chronic wasting disease surveillance season completed, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reported 11 deer tested positive. 

“The good news is that all these cases came from units where CWD has already been detected. None came from the southeastern part of the state where we were focusing our surveillance efforts,” said Dr. Charlie Bahnson, wildlife veterinarian. “However, CWD was detected right across our border in eastern Manitoba near Winkler, and again near Climax, Minn., where it was first found in 2021.”

Positive cases detected in 2023 came from units 3A1, 3A2, 3E1, 3E2 and 3F2.

Wildlife division chief Casey Anderson said that despite lower harvest success, the department met its surveillance goal in units 2B, 2G and 2G1. The objective is to achieve a sampling goal of 10% of the allocated deer gun licenses for a given year.

Game and Fish will use its 2023 surveillance data to guide CWD management moving forward.

CWD is a fatal disease of deer, moose and elk that remains on the landscape and can cause long-term population impacts as infection rates climb.

More information about CWD can be found by visiting the department’s website,

Spring Mule Deer Survey Begins

The state Game and Fish Department’s annual spring aerial mule deer survey is set to begin April 2 in western North Dakota. Weather permitting, the survey takes about two weeks to complete.

During the survey period, people could notice low-flying small airplanes over some parts of the badlands.

Game and Fish biologists have completed aerial surveys of the same 24 badlands study areas since the 1950s. The purpose of the survey is to determine a population index to assess mule deer abundance in the badlands. 

Game and Fish Volunteers Recognized

Volunteer instructors for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department were recently recognized at the annual banquet in Bismarck.

Richard Bahm, Mandan, was recognized as Hunter Education Instructor of the Year.

Thirty-year service awards were presented to Mark Biel, Bismarck; Jeff Bjugstad, Wahpeton; Patsy Crooke, Mandan; Darrell Ekberg, Manvel; Gary Ertmann, Devils Lake; Theodore Hoberg, Grand Forks; Vernon Laning, Stanton; Robert Martin, Jamestown; Francis Miller, Mandan; and Kenneth Retzlaff, Ellendale.

Recognized for 25 years of service were William Bahm, Almont; Mark Engen, Anamoose; Mark Entzi, Watford City; Daryl Heid, Center; Matthew Herman, Ashley; Leon Hiltner, Wales; Michael Hinrichs, Bismarck; Del Houghton, Steele; Lynn Kieper, Bismarck; Curtis Miller, Tioga; Marvin Neumiller, Washburn; Craig Roe, Kindred; Douglas Sommerfeld, Lisbon; Tim Stiles, Fairmount; Cindie Van Tassel, Breckenridge, Minn.; and Paul Vasquez, Grand Forks.

Honored for 20 years of service were Mark Fisher, Devils Lake; Glen Hauf, Makoti; Jonathan Hughes, Minot; Morris Hummel, Coleharbor; Terry Kassian, Wilton; Keith Kinneberg, Wahpeton; Jacqueline Martin, Anamoose; Dale Patrick, Jamestown; Andrew Robinson, Minot; Thomas Rost, Devils Lake; Scott Thorson, Towner; and Matthew Veith, Bismarck.

Fifteen-year service awards were presented to Mark Berg, Nortonville; Troy Enga, Berthold; Cassie Felber, Towner; Christopher Krenzel, Harvey; Andrew Majeres, Garrison; Phil Mastrangelo, Mandan; Dale Miller, Grandin; Michael Ness, Carrington; Mike Redmond, Ray; and Dustin Roeder, Menoken.

Ten-year active instructors recognized were Troy Anderson, Dickinson; Michael Bahm, Mandan; Craig Blomster, Leeds; Jamey Boutilier, Zap; Jennifer Ekberg, Grand Forks; Jason Forster, Lidgerwood; William Harkness, Leeds; Connie Jorgenson, Devils Lake; Dennis Lakoduk, Minot; Krista Lundgren, Kulm; Bruce Nielsen, Valley City; Dean Rustad, Ray; Kori Schantz, Underwood; and Daniel Sem, Minot.

Recognized for five years of service were John Arman, Bismarck; Austin Barnhart, Dickinson; Joel Bohm, Mohall; Kody Helland, Kathryn; Kolten Helland, Kathryn; Troy Jespersen, Grenora; Jayar Kindsvogel, Center; Kellen Latendresse, Minot; Jason Lura, Carrington; Jeff Myers, Ryder; David Randall, Minot; Brad Sage, Mandaree; Kevin Streitz, Minot; Arnold Tow, Tioga; Ryan Walker, Fargo; Adam Westphal, Starkweather; Jordan Yellowbird, Garrison; and Anna Walker, Williston.

Two-year active instructors recognized were Adrienne Arndt, Killdeer; Anthony Awender, Reeder; Andrew Bartholomaus, Gackle; Mitchell Broadwell, Valley City; Lynn Burgard, Bismarck; Brady Carpenter, Minot; Travis Dalby, Surrey; Ryan Dotzenrod, Wyndmere; Trevor Dressler, Halliday; Tyson Follman, York; Joseph Hirschfeld, Dickinson; Dale Holand, Park River; Brooks Holmen, Powers Lake; Jack Hushka, Dickinson; Sally Kittelson, Hoople; Justin Knudson, Portland; Cody Krause, Carrington; Brock Larson, Bismarck; Trevor Levenseller, Reynolds; Clint Lindemann, Enderlin; John Loomis, Bismarck; Andrea Martinez, New Town; Cailey Meier, Richardton; Jonathan Metz, Gackle; Ryan Powers, Bismarck; Alicia Randall, Minot; Jay Roemmich, Spiritwood; Tom Six, Steele; Gerald Sletmoe, Casselton; and Chad Wimer, Coleharbor.

Mountain Lion Late Season Closes in Zone 1

Mountain lion hunting during the late season in Zone 1 is closed after the harvest limit of seven cats was reached.

A conditional season in Zone 1 will open March 28 for hunters to pursue the additional two mountain lions not taken during the early season.

The conditional season will close March 31 or earlier once the second cat is taken. Early season regulations apply, which means hunters are not allowed to use dogs. In addition, hunters who harvested a lion during the early or late season are not eligible to participate.

The mountain lion season in Zone 2, which is the rest of the state outside Zone 1, has no harvest limit and is open through March 31.

2024-25 Licenses Needed April 1

North Dakota anglers, trappers and hunters are reminded that new licenses are required beginning April 1.

Licenses can be purchased online by visiting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, Once the license is processed, hunters and anglers 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 while hunting or fishing in rural areas that lack cellular service.

Licenses can also be purchased at more than 80 vendor locations throughout the state. The 2024-25 small game, fishing and furbearer licenses are effective April 1, 2024 to March 31, 2025.