Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Game and Fish Pays $700,000 in Property Taxes

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently paid more than $700,000 in taxes to counties in which the department owns or leases land. The 2019 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 the tax payments they received.

Open Fires Banned on Oahe WMA, Surrounding Areas

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is prohibiting open burning this spring on public property it manages south of Bismarck and Mandan, as a means to reduce potential for wildfires on a heavily wooded recreation area along the Missouri River.

Bill Haase, wildlife resource management supervisor, said all open burning, including campfires, is banned until further notice on the Oahe Wildlife Management Area along both sides of the Missouri River. While the use of portable grills is allowed, extreme caution is advised due to the heavily vegetated area.

Haase said these woodlands are prone to wildfires prior to spring green-up. Mild temperatures and a high fuel load in the river bottoms are a cause for concern, he said, in addition to being a high use area for anglers, campers and other outdoor recreationists.

In addition to Oahe WMA, surrounding areas included in the open burn ban include Kimball Bottoms and Maclean Bottoms managed by Bismarck Parks and Recreation District, Desert Off Road Vehicle Area managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Graner Park managed by Morton County Parks.

Oahe WMA covers more than 16,000 acres along Lake Oahe south of Bismarck-Mandan, in portions of Burleigh, Emmons, and Morton counties. Burning restriction signs are posted at all entrances to the WMA.

Missouri River System Boat Ramp Status

Anglers looking to enjoy the nice weather this weekend by fishing open water on the Missouri River System can check the status of boat ramps at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

Game and Fish will post ramp status updates as they occur.

Department personnel encourage anglers to wait their turn at boat ramps, practice social distancing and follow other guidelines for minimizing the risk of spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Game and Fish Reminds Anglers to Keep Social Distance

With a pleasant weekend in the forecast and a lot of North Dakotans anxious to do something outside, the State Game and Fish Department reminds anglers to practice social distancing, whether it’s on shore, from a boat or on the ice.

“We encourage people to get outside and fish and enjoy the outdoors,” said Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand, “but we also need to practice the recommendations for minimizing the risk of spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

Especially for anglers at popular shore-fishing locations, Steinwand said a good rule of thumb is that if you can reach out with a fishing rod and touch the person fishing next to you, you’re too close. “In other situations, we urge people to follow the 6-foot separation guideline as well,” Steinwand added.

Over the next several weeks, Game and Fish will keep an eye on popular shore-fishing areas to assess the level of activity. “We depend on the public’s awareness and willingness to cooperate,” Steinwand said, “but we’ll be monitoring, and if it appears that the recommendations are not being followed, we might have to consider closing access to those high traffic areas because of the risk involved.”

To this point, Game and Fish has not restricted access to its public outdoor facilities such as wildlife management areas and fishing waters, but its office buildings are currently closed to public traffic. “We are continuing to handle phone calls and online traffic,” Steinwand said, “so anyone who needs help or has questions can call or email us.”

Game and Fish Offers Up the Outdoors

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department encourages hunters and anglers to make mindful decisions on outdoor activities by following guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Customer, volunteer and employee well-being is of top priority. Earlier this week, Game and Fish canceled upcoming public gatherings such as the National Archery in the Schools state tournament. In addition, late-season ice fishing tournaments have canceled events to minimize crowding, and several hunter education classes scheduled to begin in the next few weeks were canceled or postponed.

Students enrolled in any classes scheduled to start in March or April can find information on class status on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

With social distancing in mind, the Game and Fish Department encourages hunters and anglers to purchase licenses online, rather than making an in-person visit. The same philosophy applies to watercraft registrations. Contact a local Game and Fish office for assistance with a purchase or registration.

During this time of uncertainty, Game and Fish is offering several suggestions for students and parents to consider while K-12 schools and some businesses are closed due to public health concerns:

  • Use free time to take the state’s boating safety course. State law requires youth ages 12-15 who want to operate a boat or personal watercraft by themselves with at least a 10 horsepower motor, must pass the boating course. And parents, it’s not just for kids. Some insurance companies give adult boat owners who pass the course a discount on boat insurance. The course is available for home study, and there is also an online version.
  • New fishing licenses are needed starting April 1. Take care of that important detail online now so you’re not scrambling to get that license just prior to your first fishing trip of the open water season.

Since it’s important to avoid crowds, North Dakota’s outdoors is a great place for recreation. You can put a boat on the Missouri River right now, or still get in some ice fishing on lakes where ice is still safe for travel. If you’re just looking for some exercise, take a hike on one of the department’s 229 wildlife management areas.

Stay connected with Game and Fish by following us on FacebookInstagram and YouTube.

A different type of census

You won’t find a U.S. Census taker out on the ice knocking on fish house doors looking to ask a few questions.

But it is possible that anglers at Stump Lake this winter, and Lake Audubon last year, did get a tap on the door from a clipboard-carrying surveyor. These are two large bodies of water where the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is trying to gather useful information on angler use and fish harvest.

In the winter, creel clerks travel out on the ice to talk to anglers. In summer, clerks primarily set up shop at boat ramps and conduct interviews as anglers come off the lake.

Scott Gangl, Department fisheries management section leader, says North Dakota fisheries have three primary components – fish, habitat and anglers.

“As anglers are one of the main components of a fisheries management plan, we on occasion want to sample these people to gather information on fishing pressure, the number of fish caught, released and total harvest,” Gangl said in an article published in the February 2019 edition of North Dakota Outdoors magazine. “Creel surveys are another monitoring tool that allows us to gather information that helps in the management of a fishery.”

The interviews are short, simple and to the point. Surveyors ask what species anglers are primarily fishing for, how long they’ve been fishing, and what they’ve caught.

“The more interviews the creel clerks can conduct, the better our catch-rate information,” said Jason Lee, Game and Fish north central district fisheries manager. “We try to randomize to some degree when we’re out checking on anglers, to get a look at the entire fishing day, rather than just focusing on the sundown walleye bite.

“This gives us an overall idea of how well they’re enjoying their fishing experience,” Lee added. “Without angler help with the creel surveys, Game and Fish wouldn’t have any of this valuable information. “In general, anglers have been great about taking a few minutes out of their trip, or at the end of their trip, to talk to creel clerks about what they caught, their experiences and if they harvested any fish.”

While North Dakota’s more popular waters, such as the Missouri River System, Lake Audubon and Devils Lake, are surveyed routinely, but not every year, Gangl said the Game and Fish does survey other smaller waters when answers to questions are needed.

No matter the location of the creel survey, or time of year, Gangl said the opportunity to simply talk with anglers, to put a face with the agency managing the fisheries, is important.

“A big benefit is that we, as an agency, get to interact with the angling population on things other than biology,” he said. “We learn how far anglers are traveling to fish certain waters and we get to gauge their satisfaction. We don’t have a lot of control over what makes people happy, but they are generally happy when they are catching fish.”

2020-21 Licenses Needed April 1

North Dakota anglers, trappers and hunters are reminded that new licenses for the 2020-21 season are required starting April 1.

 

Licenses can be purchased online by visiting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. 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 2020-21 small game, fishing and furbearer licenses are effective April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

 

In addition, Senate Bill 2293, passed by the 2019 state legislature, created an aquatic nuisance species program fund in the state treasury. Along with an ANS fee on motorized watercraft that went into effect Jan. 1, this state law also establishes a $2 surcharge on each resident fishing license and combination license, except for the resident 65years of age or older license, permanently or totally disabled license, or a disabled veteran license; and establishes a $3 surcharge on each nonresident fishing and each nonresident waterfowl license. The ANS surcharge on licenses is in effect with the 2020-21 license.

Guide and Outfitter Exam Scheduled

The next guide and outfitter written examination is May 9 at 1 p.m. at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department office in Bismarck. The test is given periodically to anyone interested in becoming a guide or outfitter in the state.

 

In addition to passing a written exam, qualifications for becoming a guide include a background check for criminal and game and fish violations; certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and standard first aid; and employment by or contract with a licensed hunting outfitter.

 

Hunting outfitter eligibility requirements include the guide qualifications, as well as an individual must have held a hunting guide license for two years; and must have proof of liability insurance.

 

Interested individuals are required to preregister by calling the Game and Fish Department’s enforcement office at 328-6604.