Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Operation Dry Water

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will again participate in Operation Dry Water as part of a nationally coordinated effort to increase knowledge about the dangers of boating under the influence. The goal is to reduce the number of accidents and deaths associated with alcohol and drug use on state waterways.

 

Operation Dry Water weekend, July 5-7, is the national weekend of heightened enforcement effort directed at boating under the influence laws and recreational boater outreach.

 

While informing and educating boaters about the hazards and negative outcomes associated with boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a year-round effort, on ODW weekend the Game and Fish Department’s game wardens will be focused on the water, informing boaters about safe boating practices, and removing impaired operators from the water.

 

Tips to staying safe on the water:

  • Boat sober – alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths. Alcohol and drugs use impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.
  • Wear your life jacket – 85 percent of drowning victims nationwide were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Take a boating safety education course - 71 percent of deaths nationwide occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction.

Deer Lottery Held, Licenses Remain

North Dakota’s deer gun lottery has been held and individual results are available online at the state Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

Chief of administrative services Kim Kary said moving to an online lottery has resulted in reducing the time between the application deadline and the lottery run date.

“It’s a major benefit in moving to an all online lottery application process,” Kary said.

The Game and Fish Department will mail deer licenses to successful applicants after they purchase a valid 2019-20 hunting license. All deer hunters, regardless of age, are required to have a general game and habitat license in addition to their deer license.

More than 6,000 deer gun licenses remain. Only resident applicants who were unsuccessful in the lottery can apply for remaining licenses.

More than 78,000 individuals applied for a deer gun lottery license, in addition to about 13,500 gratis applicants. The 2019 deer gun proclamation allows for 64,500 deer gun season licenses.

Unsuccessful applicants can apply online for remaining licenses beginning July 10. The deadline for applying is July 24.

Remaining Deer Gun Licenses

(B = Any Antlerless   C = Antlered Whitetail   D = Antlerless Whitetail   F = Antlerless Mule Deer)

Unit

Type

Available

2H

B

172

2L

B

30

3A1

B

399

3B1

D

107

3B1

F

122

3B2

D

98

3B2

F

201

3B3

D

267

3C

D

360

3D1

B

86

3D1

D

219

3D2

D

149

3E1

D

217

3E2

B

48

3E2

D

181

3F1

B

175

3F1

D

459

3F2

B

893

3F2

C

73

3F2

D

778

4A

D

23

4B

D

115

4C

D

100

4D

D

141

4E

D

155

4F

D

350

4F

F

185

Spring Breeding Duck Numbers Tallied

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s 72nd annual spring breeding duck survey conducted in May showed an index of 3.4 million birds, up 20 percent from last year.

 

Migratory game bird supervisor Mike Szymanski said the index was the 22nd highest on record and stands 40 percent above the long-term (1948-2018) average.

 

“Breeding duck numbers generally trend with wetland conditions,” Szymanski said. “The large number of ducks in North Dakota this spring can again be attributed to the large number of ducks that we have been producing for many years.”

 

Survey results indicate numbers for all primary species were up from their 2018 estimates, including mallards (16 percent), green-winged teal (81 percent) and ruddy ducks (57 percent). All other ducks ranged from 5 (scaup) to 40 percent (pintails) above last year’s numbers. All species, with the exception of pintails and blue-winged teal, were above the 71-year average.

 

The number of temporary and seasonal wetlands was substantially higher than last year, as figures show the spring water index is up 46 percent. The water index is based on basins with water, and does not necessarily represent the amount of water contained in wetlands or the type of wetlands represented.

 

“Water conditions ranged from poor to excellent across the state,” Szymanski said. “Excellent wetland conditions in the south and east quickly deteriorated moving into the north central region, but are fair to good in the northwest.”

 

Szymanski said concerns about habitat remain, as nesting cover in North Dakota continues to decline. “Waterfowl breeding habitats are under extreme pressure, and expiring Conservation Reserve Program contracts and the continual conversion of habitat to other uses can only further reduce waterfowl production in the state,” he added.

 

The July brood survey provides a better idea of duck production and insight into expectations for this fall, Szymanski said, though hunting success is also influenced by bird movements before and during hunting seasons, and weather patterns during the fall migration.

WMA Regulations Prohibit Fireworks, Camping Restrictions Lifted for Holiday

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds citizens that possession or use of fireworks on state wildlife management areas is prohibited.

 

The primary objective of a wildlife management area is to enhance wildlife production, provide hunting and fishing opportunities, and offer other outdoor recreational and educational uses that are compatible with these objectives. Only activities that would not disrupt the intentions of how these areas are managed are encouraged, and a fireworks display is not compatible.

 

In addition, the Game and Fish Department will lift the Tuesday-Wednesday no-camping restriction for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday week, which will allow overnight camping July 2-3 on those WMAs that otherwise have this two-day restriction in place.

 

A complete list of the WMA regulations is available on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

Put Garbage Where it Belongs

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds outdoor recreationists to keep public use areas, including state wildlife management areas, clean this summer by packing out all trash.

 

All garbage should be placed in a proper trash receptacle. If trash cans aren’t available, or are full, take the trash and dispose of it at home.

 

It is not uncommon to see garbage piling up around full trash containers. Styrofoam containers are not biodegradable, but yet are often found wedged in cattails, drifting or washed up on shore.

 

Tires, mattresses and kitchen appliances have found their way to public use areas. This illegal dumping is costly to clean up and takes a significant toll on the environment. Not only does it spoil the beauty of the land, it destroys habitat, has the potential to pollute North Dakota waters and can injure wildlife.

 

In addition, possession of glass bottles is prohibited on state wildlife management areas and state sovereign lands. Therefore, it is illegal for outdoor recreationists to possess glass containers on sandbars within the Missouri River System.

 

Littering violations should be reported by calling the Report All Poachers hotline at 701-328-9921.

 

A complete list of WMA regulations is available on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

Zebra Mussels Discovered in Lake Ashtabula

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has confirmed the presence of invasive zebra mussels in Lake Ashtabula.

Last week, an angler discovered a suspected zebra mussel and turned it into Game and Fish aquatic nuisance species coordinator Jessica Howell. Howell confirmed it as an adult zebra mussel, and subsequent inspections of Lake Ashtabula, an impoundment on the Sheyenne River in Barnes and Griggs counties in east central North Dakota, also found well-established populations of zebra mussels of various ages throughout the lake.

At 5,200 acres, Lake Ashtabula is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and it offers a variety of outdoor activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, camping and skiing. Howell said it’s unknown how these small, sharp-shelled mussels were introduced into Lake Ashtabula, and there is no known method to completely rid a lake of zebra mussels.

“This situation shows how important it is for boaters, anglers, swimmers and skiers to be aware of aquatic nuisance species and to take precautions to prevent their spread,” Howell said. “Everyone who uses this lake now plays a key role in stemming the spread of these mussels to uninfested waters.”

Because of this new finding, the Game and Fish Department has classified Lake Ashtabula, and the Sheyenne River downstream all the way to the Red River, as Class I ANS infested water. Emergency rules will go into effect immediately to prohibit the movement of water away from the lake and river, including water for transferring bait. Notices will be posted at lake access sites and popular shore-fishing spots along the river.

The Red River is the state’s only other Class I ANS water. Adult zebra mussels were discovered in the Red in 2015.

Prevention is the best way to avoid spreading ANS, Howell said, as they often travel by “hitchhiking” with unsuspecting lake-goers. “Always clean, drain and dry boats and other equipment before using another lake,” Howell said. “Also, don’t transfer lake water or live fish to another body of water. This can help stop the spread of not only zebra mussels, but most aquatic nuisance species that may be present.”

Zebra mussels attach to solid objects, so lake-goers should be careful when handling mussel-encrusted objects and when grabbing an underwater object when they can’t see what their hands may be grasping. Visitors should protect their feet when wading, or walking on shoreline rocks.

Zebra mussels are just one of the nonnative aquatic species that threaten North Dakota waters and native wildlife, Howell said. North Dakota regulations designed to prevent the spread of ANS include:

  •           Remove aquatic vegetation before leaving the water access and do not import into North Dakota.
  •           Drain all water before leaving the water access.
  •           Remove drain plugs and devices that hold back water, and leave open and out during transport.
  •           Do not import bait. For Class I ANS Infested waters, bait cannot be transported in water away from the river or lake. In all other areas, bait must be transported in a container that holds 5 gallons or less. Fish cleaning stations are available around Lake Ashtabula to dispose of unused bait. Remember that it is illegal to dump unused bait on shore or into the lake. If no fish cleaning station is available, place in a dry container and dispose of the bait at home.

In addition to North Dakota regulations, the Game and Fish Department strongly recommends that all equipment is cleaned, drained and dried every time it is used.

  •           Clean – remove plants, animals, and excessive mud prior to leaving a water access
  •           Drain – drain all water prior to leaving a water access
  •           Dry – allow equipment to dry completely before using again or disinfect

For more information about aquatic nuisance species in North Dakota, options for disinfection, or to report a possible ANS, visit https://gf.nd.gov/ans.

About Zebra Mussels

Zebra mussels are dime-sized mollusks with striped, sharp-edged, two-part shells. They can produce large populations in a short time and do not require a host fish to reproduce. A large female zebra mussel can produce 1 million eggs, and fertilized eggs develop into microscopic veligers that are invisible to the naked eye. Veligers drift in the water for at least two weeks before they settle out as young mussels, which quickly grow to adult size and reproduce within a few months.

After settling, zebra mussels develop byssal threads that attach their shells to submerged hard surfaces such as rocks, piers and flooded timber. They also attach to pipes, water intake structures, boat hulls, propellers and submerged parts of outboard motors. As populations increase, they can clog intake pipes and prevent water treatment and electrical generating plants from drawing water. Removing large numbers of zebra mussels to ensure adequate water flow can be labor-intensive and costly.

Zebra mussels are native to the Black and Caspian seas of western Asia and eastern Europe, and were spread around the world in the ballast water of cargo ships. They were first discovered in the United States in Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River in 1988, and quickly spread throughout the Great Lakes and other rivers including the Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas and Hudson. Moving water in boats and bait buckets has been identified as a likely vector, as has importing used boat lifts and docks.

Traveling Boaters Take Note of ANS Regulations

North Dakota boaters who are traveling to or through other states or Canadian provinces, are reminded to check the aquatic nuisance species regulations of their destination, to make sure they are in compliance.

 

Mandatory boat inspections may be required along highways or at lakes based on destination or route taken. In general, to ensure compliance, boaters are encouraged to clean, drain and dry equipment.

  • Clean: remove plants, animals and excessive mud from trailers, hulls, motors and other equipment such as fishing rods.
  • Drain: drain all water, including bilges, livewells and bait buckets.
  • Dry: allow all equipment to dry completely, as an inspection might be failed in a neighboring state if any standing water is present. If necessary, use sponges or towels to remove excess water and leave compartments open to dry.

More information on bordering state and provincial ANS regulations is available at the following web addresses.

Hunting Guide and Outfitter Exam Scheduled

The next guide and outfitter written examination is Aug. 17 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.

have you read?

The June  2019 North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

You’ll find a great piece by Editor Ron Wilson  Big Lake Walleye Spawn Fuels State Fisheries “Walleye spawning is driven by two things – water temperature and photoperiod (daylight),” said Dave Fryda, North Dakota Game and Fish Department Missouri River System fisheries supervisor. “Especially in Lake Sakakawea, which is a big body of water, there is warmer water in many of the bays, while the water is still cold out in the lake.”

Ron also shares thoughts from Greg Power, fisheries division chief, who revists the changes in fish spawning in 40 Years of Eggs and Change

“1979 – 40 years ago – was the first year I spawned fish at this location,” Power said. “At the time, there was a spawning shack here, but very few trees and there weren’t many anglers to speak of back in those days.”

 

Operation Dry Water takes a look at work by game wardens to keep boating safe this summer.

Boating under the influence is always a concern for law enforcement during North Dakota’s open-water season. With more than 64,000 registered watercraft in the state, it’s a certainty when the sun pops, weather warms and the wind dies, that not all water enthusiasts are playing it smart.