Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Spring Turkey Season Set

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is offering 6,230 wild turkey licenses for the 2020 spring hunting season, 205 more than last year.

Seven of the 22 hunting units have more spring licenses than in 2019, five have fewer and nine remain the same. Unit 21 (Hettinger and Adams counties) is again closed in 2020 due to lack of turkeys in the unit.

Spring turkey applicants can apply online at the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Applications can also be submitted by calling 800-406-6409.

The deadline for applying is Feb. 12.

Successful spring turkey applicants must purchase a 2020-21 hunting license, as last year’s 2019-20 licenses expire March 31. In addition to the spring turkey license, hunters must have a general game and habitat license. Also, hunters ages 16 and older must possess a small game license, or combination license. These required licenses must be purchased in advance of the successful applicant receiving the turkey license.

First-time spring turkey hunters ages 15 or younger are eligible to receive one spring license valid for any open unit. To be eligible, the youth hunter must be 15 or younger on opening day of spring turkey season and have never received a spring turkey license in North Dakota.

Spring turkey licenses are available only to North Dakota residents. Per legislation, an additional four spring wild turkey licenses are available to the Outdoor Adventure Foundation and three to the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The spring turkey season opens April 11 and continues through May 17.

Remove Gear from WMAs

Hunters are reminded that tree stands, blinds, steps and other personal items such as cameras, must be removed from all wildlife management areas by Jan. 31.

Items not removed by Jan. 31 are considered abandoned property and are subject to removal and confiscation by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

Deer Test Positive for CWD

Eight deer taken during the 2019 North Dakota deer gun season tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to Dr. Charlie Bahnson, wildlife veterinarian for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

All were antlered deer taken from areas previously known to have CWD – six from unit 3F2 and two from 3A1. Bahnson said six of the eight were mule deer, with two whitetails from unit 3F2. CWD was not detected in any deer harvested in the eastern portion of the state where hunter-harvested surveillance was conducted last fall. In addition, no elk or moose tested positive.

“Only about 15% of hunters submit heads for testing in units where CWD has been found, so the infection rate is more meaningful than the raw number of positive animals found,” Bahnson said. “Approximately 3% of harvested mule deer were infected with CWD in unit 3F2, and roughly 2% in unit 3A1. Our infection rate in whitetails in 3F2 was about 1%.

“Overall,” he continued, “we could probably live with these current infection rates long-term, but they suggest an upward trend and we’ve certainly seen an expansion in the known distribution of the disease. We need to continue to try to limit the spread within our herds as best as we can. CWD is a fatal disease of deer, moose and elk that can cause long-term population declines if left unchecked.”

Bahnson said the eight positive deer put the total at 11 detected since Sept 1. As previously reported, two mule deer taken in September tested positive for CWD – one was harvested during the archery season from deer gun unit 4B and one during the youth season in unit 3A1. CWD was also detected in a white-tailed deer from unit 3F2 that was euthanized in December following a report from the public that it appeared sick and was displaying erratic behavior.

Game and Fish will use its 2019 surveillance data to guide its CWD management strategy moving forward. More information about CWD can be found at the Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov/cwd.

 

CREP Enrollment Open

Landowners in southwestern North Dakota are again able to enroll in the state Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture opened a new signup period in early December.

 

In addition, USDA also announced an open signup for the general Conservation Reserve Program, which is open until Feb. 29.

 

The North Dakota Riparian Project CREP, first offered in spring 2017, allows states to identify resource concerns and design custom-built projects along riparian areas.

“Over a 10-year period, approximately $19 million in federal funds from the USDA Farm Service Agency can be used to provide annual rental, incentive and cost-share payments for filter strips, riparian buffers, or pollinator and honeybee habitat,” according to Kevin Kading, private land section supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

 

The state will contribute more than $4.3 million, which is funded from the Game and Fish Private Land Open To Sportsmen program, and the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund.

 

“We’ve worked a long time developing these projects with USDA, and working with other partners and stakeholders,” Kading said. “We feel these are good options for landowners to address a resource concern, and also open up some quality habitat for hunters.”

 

Landowners interested in CREP can enroll acres in portions of Adams, Billings, Bowman, Burleigh, Dunn, Emmons, Grant, Golden Valley, Hettinger, McKenzie, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sioux, Slope and Stark counties. The statewide enrollment cap for this program is 20,000 acres.

 

Expired, or expiring CRP is not eligible for the North Dakota Riparian Project CREP at this time, Kading said. Land offered must meet FSA cropping history requirements and be located within the project boundary.

 

There is no minimum acreage requirement for enrolling land into CREP, but any land enrolled in a CREP contract with USDA must also be enrolled in the Game and Fish PLOTS program. Kading said landowners don’t have to allow public access to their entire property, but the PLOTS tract must be at least 40 acres in size.

Landowners will receive payments for allowing walk-in hunting access, and are eligible for additional habitat enhancements, incentives and cost-share.

 

For information regarding the project, landowners should contact a local Game and Fish private land biologist or their local county USDA service center.

CREP Enrollment Open

Landowners in southwestern North Dakota are again able to enroll in the state Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture opened a new signup period in early December.

 

In addition, USDA also announced an open signup for the general Conservation Reserve Program, which is open until Feb. 29.

 

The North Dakota Riparian Project CREP, first offered in spring 2017, allows states to identify resource concerns and design custom-built projects along riparian areas.

“Over a 10-year period, approximately $19 million in federal funds from the USDA Farm Service Agency can be used to provide annual rental, incentive and cost-share payments for filter strips, riparian buffers, or pollinator and honeybee habitat,” according to Kevin Kading, private land section supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

 

The state will contribute more than $4.3 million, which is funded from the Game and Fish Private Land Open To Sportsmen program, and the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund.

 

“We’ve worked a long time developing these projects with USDA, and working with other partners and stakeholders,” Kading said. “We feel these are good options for landowners to address a resource concern, and also open up some quality habitat for hunters.”

 

Landowners interested in CREP can enroll acres in portions of Adams, Billings, Bowman, Burleigh, Dunn, Emmons, Grant, Golden Valley, Hettinger, McKenzie, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sioux, Slope and Stark counties. The statewide enrollment cap for this program is 20,000 acres.

 

Expired, or expiring CRP is not eligible for the North Dakota Riparian Project CREP at this time, Kading said. Land offered must meet FSA cropping history requirements and be located within the project boundary.

 

There is no minimum acreage requirement for enrolling land into CREP, but any land enrolled in a CREP contract with USDA must also be enrolled in the Game and Fish PLOTS program. Kading said landowners don’t have to allow public access to their entire property, but the PLOTS tract must be at least 40 acres in size.

Landowners will receive payments for allowing walk-in hunting access, and are eligible for additional habitat enhancements, incentives and cost-share.

 

For information regarding the project, landowners should contact a local Game and Fish private land biologist or their local county USDA service center.

2020 North Dakota OUTDOORS Calendar Available

The 2020 North Dakota OUTDOORS calendar is available for ordering online at the state Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov.

The calendar features outstanding color photographs of North Dakota wildlife and scenery, and includes season opening and application deadline dates, sunrise-sunset times and moon phases.

Calendars are also available via mail order. Send $3 for each, plus $1 postage, to: Calendar, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095.

The calendar is the North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine’s December issue, so current subscribers should have already received it in the mail.

Hunter Education Classes

Individuals interested in taking a hunter education class in 2020 are reminded to register early, as most classes are held the first few months of the calendar year.

 

Interested students must click on the education link at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Classes are listed by city and can also be sorted by start date. Classes will be added throughout the year as they become finalized.

 

To register for a class, click on “enroll” next to the specific class, and follow the simple instructions. Personal information is required.

 

Individuals interested in receiving a notice by email when each hunter education class is added, can click on the “subscribe to news and alerts” link found below the news section on the Game and Fish home page. Check the box labeled “hunter education” under the education program updates.

 

In addition, SMS text notifications of new classes can be sent directly to a cell phone. Simply text “NDGF HunterClass” to 468311 to subscribe to this feature.

 

State law requires anyone born after Dec. 31, 1961 to pass a certified hunter education course to hunt in the state. Hunter education is mandatory for youth who are turning 12 years old. Children who turn age 11 during the calendar year can take the class.

Game and Fish Recognizes Employee Efforts

North Dakota Game and Fish Department Director Terry Steinwand recently honored a number of employees with performance-based awards. Steinwand presented the following employees with special recognition awards at the department’s annual staff meeting in December.

 

Renae Schultz, private land biologist, Jamestown, was recognized for her attitude, persistence and efforts in coordinating a Private Lands Open to Sportsmen tract along the James River.

 

Mike Anderson, video project supervisor, Bismarck, was recognized for his planning, shooting, editing, script writing and voicing the North Dakota Outdoors weekly broadcast, in addition to hosting and editing the Game and Fish Department’s weekly online webcast.

 

Justin Mattson, administrative staff officer, Bismarck, was recognized for his work ethic, reliability and willingness to take on extra responsibilities in the administrative services division.

 

Bill Haase, wildlife resource management supervisor, Bismarck, was recognized for his work on several projects, including public shooting ranges, cover crops and GPS mapping for weed spraying.

 

Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird management supervisor, Bismarck, was recognized for his vision and coordination in combining the three separate small game, waterfowl and furbearer/trapping guides into one combined hunting and trapping guide.

 

Steve Dyke, conservation section leader, and Sandra Johnson and Elisha Mueller, conservation biologists, Bismarck, were recognized for their efforts in developing a new standard for wind project planning and siting in North Dakota.

 

In addition to special recognition recipients, Keenan Snyder, district game warden, Williston, was named North Dakota’s Boating Officer of the Year. His district has approximately 150 miles of shoreline bordering Lake Sakakawea and portions of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers. Chief game warden Robert Timian said warden Snyder has been tasked with water patrols relating to monitoring environmental issues associated with oil activities in, on and around these three water bodies, and has met these challenges with enthusiasm, which reflects highly on the department and the community he serves.

Art Cox Named Wildlife Officer of the Year

Art Cox, North Dakota Game and Fish Department district game warden stationed in Bowman, is the state’s 2019 Wildlife Officer of the Year. Cox was honored recently by the 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 Robert Timian said Cox’s district contains a variety of wildlife and recreational areas that encompasses parts or all of four counties.

“Warden Cox has a large district that requires energy and dedication to patrol with elk, deer, pronghorn, grouse, partridge, waterfowl, fishing and pheasant seasons overlapping,” Timian said. “He is often pulled in different directions but always finds a way to get his mission completed, and has a great working relationship with the public and landowners in his district.”