Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Spring Mule Deer Survey Complete

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department completed its annual spring mule deer survey in April, and results indicate western North Dakota’s mule deer population is similar to last year, and 45 percent above the long-term average.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND     Game and Fish

 

Biologists counted 2,540 mule deer in 245.8 square miles during this year’s survey. Overall mule deer density in the badlands was 10.3 deer per square mile, compared to 10.9 in 2017.

 

Big game management supervisor Bruce Stillings said mule deer in the badlands have recovered nicely following the winters of 2009-11, which led to record low fawn production and a population index low of 4.6 mule deer per square mile in 2012.

 

“The population recovery is due to no antlerless harvest for four years combined with milder winter conditions during 2012-2016, which led to good fawn production since 2013,” Stillings said. “However, the long-term health of the population will depend on maintaining high quality habitat. Rangeland conditions are in tough shape in the badlands due to drought conditions, and could have a negative impact on fawn production this summer.”

 

The 2018 survey results show that hunting opportunities, according to Stillings, can increase slightly in all badlands units except 4A, which has been slower to recover than the rest of the badlands units. “There are localized areas that have very high mule deer densities and have exceeded landowner tolerance levels,” Stillings said.

 

The spring mule deer survey is used to assess mule deer abundance in the badlands. It is conducted after the snow has melted and before the trees begin to leaf out, providing the best conditions for aerial observation of deer. Biologists have completed aerial surveys of the same 24 study areas since the 1950s.

Game and Fish Pays $621,000 in Property Taxes

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently paid more than $621,000 in taxes to counties in which the department owns or leases land. The 2017 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.

 

County Tax Due County Tax Due County Tax Due
Adams 182.33 Grand Forks 14,129.07 Pierce 2,815.44
Barnes 5,644.02 Grant 1,131.83 Ramsey 15,390.45
Benson 4,596.45 Griggs 82.08 Ransom 1,495.39
Billings 300.78 Hettinger 4,718.98 Richland 18,136.88
Bottineau 5,218.40 Kidder 10,315.27 Rolette 38,642.11
Bowman 2,097.65 LaMoure 9,812.72 Sargent 17,627.17
Burke 1,200.12 Logan 336.07 Sheridan 62,021.67
Burleigh 27,957.99 McHenry 1,609.79 Sioux 232.35
Cass 7,054.45 McIntosh 9,466.17 Slope 1,585.08
Cavalier 28,619.90 McKenzie 33,447.76 Stark 5,383.98
Dickey 12,964.84 McLean 94,341.96 Steele 8,245.29
Divide 1,873.65 Mercer 17,137.90 Stutsman 4,563.95
Dunn 5,892.05 Morton 19,720.35 Towner 2,267.82
Eddy 5,749.63 Mountrail 7,736.86 Walsh 10,871.86
Emmons 3,802.69 Nelson 5,560.39 Ward 115.79
Foster 978.75 Oliver 2,919.94 Wells 61,796.96
Golden Valley 146.55 Pembina 17,862.28 Williams 5,243.55

Scholarships Available for Students

The North Dakota Game Wardens Association, Ray Goetz Memorial Fund and Kupper Chevrolet are providing scholarships to a graduating high school senior or current higher education student, majoring in fisheries, wildlife management or law enforcement.

 

Applicants must be North Dakota residents, and have maintained a 3.25 grade point average. Scholarships will be awarded this fall upon proof of enrollment.

 

Applications are available by contacting the North Dakota Game Warden’s Association, P.O. Box 3581, Minot, ND 58702; or by email at btupdike@nd.gov. Applications must be postmarked no later than May 31, 2018.

Pronghorn Hunting Season Statistics

Hunter success during last fall’s pronghorn hunting season was 75 percent, according to statistics provided by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

Game and Fish issued 410 licenses (255 lottery and 155 gratis), and 366 hunters took 275 pronghorn, consisting of 264 bucks, 10 does and one fawn. Each hunter spent an average of 2.4 days afield.

Three percent of the harvest occurred during the archery season.

The 2018 pronghorn hunting season will be determined in July.

Doug.Leier2017a

Game and Fish Sponsors Earth Day Project

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is once again celebrating Earth Day by sponsoring clean-up days on publicly owned or managed lands.

 

With Earth Day recognized April 22, each member of a school, Girl Scout, Boy Scout, 4-H club or youth organization who participates in cleaning up public lands through May will receive a specifically designed conservation patch.

 

Last winter the Game and Fish Department sponsored a contest for students ages 6-18 to design a North Dakota Earth Day Patch. Winners in the three age categories were Brooke Livingston of Kenmare (6-9), Abbey Peterson of Velva (10-13), and Deanna Rose of Grand Forks (14-18). Rose’s design was chosen as the contest winner, and will be used on this year’s Earth Day patch.

 

Groups participating in the Earth Day project are encouraged to take the following precautions to ensure safety: keep young people away from highways, lakes and rivers; and only allow older participants to pick up broken glass.

 

Interested participants are asked to contact Pat Lothspeich at 328-6332 to receive a reporting form for their project.

Bighorn Sheep Population Declines

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s 2017 bighorn sheep survey, completed by recounting lambs in March, revealed a minimum of 265 bighorn sheep in western North Dakota, down 11 percent from 2016 and 9 percent below the five-year average.

Altogether, biologists counted 91 rams, 149 ewes and 25 lambs. Not included are approximately 20 bighorns in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Big game biologist Brett Wiedmann said the survey count was the lowest since 2006.

“The decline in the 2017 count reflects the spread of bacterial pneumonia to three previously unaffected herds and consequently the adult and lamb mortalities that followed,” Wiedmann said.

The northern badlands population declined 10 percent from 2016, and the southern badlands population was down 21 percent.

“The total count of adult rams and ewes was much lower than the record high counts in 2016, but the lamb count and recruitment rate improved slightly in 2017, albeit still much below the long-term averages,” Wiedmann said.

Wiedmann noted that poor lamb survival is typical in populations exposed to Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae, the pathogen responsible for most die-offs of bighorn sheep, and those effects can last many years.

Game and Fish 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.

“Fortunately, adult mortality was low in previously affected herds, and lamb survival improved as well, which could indicate those herds initially exposed to the deadly pathogens in 2014 are beginning to recover,” Wiedmann said. “The next few years will be important in determining if the state’s population shows signs of recovering from the disease outbreak, or if the pathogens are likely to persist and cause a long-term population decline.”

Dr. Dan Grove, Department veterinarian, said that 20 adult bighorn were tested for deadly pathogens last winter, but results are still pending. He said animals continue to succumb to pneumonia, albeit at a much slower rate.

A bighorn sheep hunting season is tentatively scheduled to open in 2018, unless there is a recurrence of significant adult mortality from bacterial pneumonia. The status of the bighorn sheep season will be determined Sept. 1, after the summer population survey is completed.

Game and Fish issued five licenses in 2017 and all hunters were successful harvesting a ram.

 

Have You Read? March-April Outdoors magazine

have you read?

The 2018 March-April North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE onlineright now here.

Leading off the issue is Director Terry Steinwand’s Matters of Opinion While an inconvenience for anyone traveling or clearing sidewalks and driveways, the heavy, wet snows that fell on much of the state in March were welcome.

North Dakota’s fishing opportunities today are many. With a record number of lakes across the state that hold, in some instances, robust fish populations, the precipitation was needed.

Greg Power, fisheries division chief explains, The Value Of Fishing

Have you ever wondered why the diamond on a ring may cost $10,000 or more, yet it has no material utility other than to shine? Or why a teaspoon of salty fish eggs may run $100, even if the majority of people would prefer nothing more than just the cracker on which the eggs are served?

Ron Wilson, North Dakota Outdoors editor, this months examines the history of the “Whopper Club” with his Look Back column.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department officials unveiled the Whopper Club program to anglers nearly 60 years ago.

Is it fair to say that Department heads in 1960 didn’t envision this program to still be swimming upstream with purpose in 2018?

Hunting Guide and Outfitter Test Set

The next guide and outfitter written examination is May 12 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 hunting 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.