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.

Deer Gratis Application Online

Landowners who are interested in a 2020 deer gratis license can start the online-only application process now by visiting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. The deadline for applying is June 3.

The general deer and muzzleloader lottery applications will be available online in early May, also with a deadline of June 3.

Since 2018 the Game and Fish Department has opened deer gratis applications a month earlier than prior years to allow additional time for online applications for landowners who are busy with spring farm and ranch activities.

Gratis applicants who have previously applied online will automatically have their land description carried forward to this year’s application. However, any changes with land descriptions from last year’s application must be made prior to submitting the 2020 application.

Applications must be submitted online using a computer or smartphone.  License vendors are unable to process deer gratis applications.

Spring Mule Deer Survey Begins April 1

The state Game and Fish Department’s annual spring aerial mule deer survey is set to begin April 1 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.

Youth Grant Program Applications Due in April

Wildlife, shooting, fraternal and nonprofit civic organizations are urged to submit an application for the Encouraging Tomorrow’s Hunters program, a North Dakota Game and Fish Department grant program developed to assist recruitment of the next generation of hunters and shooters.

 

The maximum grant allowed is $3,000. The program currently helps fund approximately 40 club and organizational events and projects each year, with an average grant of $1,550.

 

Grant funds help cover event expenses, including promotional printing; event memorabilia such as shirts, caps or vests; ammunition and targets, and eye and ear protection.

 

Past funding has enabled groups to conduct youth pheasant and waterfowl hunts, or sponsor trap and other shooting events, including archery and rifle shooting. Game and Fish has a separate grant program that supports new high school trapshooting teams.
Any club or organization interested in conducting a youth hunting or shooting event can get more information, including a grant application, from the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, or by contacting R3 coordinator Brian Schaffer at 701-328-6312.

 

The deadline to apply for a 2020 grant is April 10.

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.

Hunters Cautioned of Ground Conditions

The spring snow goose migration is in full swing, and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is asking hunters to be wary of muddy roads and saturated ground conditions when traveling to and from hunting locations.

Game and Fish Department wildlife chief Jeb Williams said goose hunters are encouraged to maintain positive landowner/hunter relations and not drive on soft, muddy roads and trails, and to seek landowner permission before attempting any off-road travel on private land.

The spring light goose conservation order runs through May 10.

Whooping cranes are in the midst of their spring migration and sightings will increase as they make their way into and through North Dakota over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these endangered birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.

 

The whooping cranes that do make their way through North Dakota each spring are part of a population of about 500 birds that are on their way from their wintering grounds at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas to their nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada, a distance of about 2,500 miles.

 

Whoopers stand about five feet tall and have a wingspan of about seven feet from tip to tip. They are bright white with black wing tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. In flight they extend their long necks straight forward, while their long, slender legs extend out behind the tail. Whooping cranes typically migrate singly, or in groups of 2-3 birds, and may be associated with sandhill cranes.

 

Other white birds such as snow geese, swans and egrets are often mistaken for whooping cranes. The most common misidentification is pelicans, because their wingspan is similar and they tuck their pouch in flight, leaving a silhouette similar to a crane when viewed from below.

 

Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them, but record the date, time, location, and the birds’ activity. Observers should also look closely for and report colored bands which may occur on one or both legs. Whooping cranes have been marked with colored leg bands to help determine their identity.

 

Whooping crane sightings should be reported to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices at Lostwood, 701-848-2466, or Audubon, 701-442-5474, national wildlife refuges; the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, 701-328-6300, or to local game wardens across the state. Reports help biologists locate important whooping crane habitat areas, monitor marked birds, determine survival and population numbers, and identify times and migration routes.

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.

NASP Tournament Canceled

Following the announced week-long closure of North Dakota’s K-12 schools, the National Archery in the Schools Program state tournament scheduled for this weekend in Minot has been canceled due to public health concerns.

With an estimated 1,000 archers in grades 4-12 expected to convene Friday, March 20 at the State Fair Center, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is following the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that groups cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more.