Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Hunting, Fishing Legislation

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will once again track hunting and fishing issues during the 2019 legislative session.

Interested outdoor enthusiasts can follow proposed outdoors-related bills by visiting the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

A brief description of each bill will be included, along with the bill sponsor and hearing schedule. To view each bill in its entirety, click on the linked bill number.

Chronic Wasting Disease Detected in New Area of North Dakota

Three deer taken during the 2018 North Dakota deer gun season have been confirmed positive for chronic wasting disease, according to Dr. Charlie Bahnson, wildlife veterinarian for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. While two of the positive deer were taken in unit 3F2, an area of North Dakota known to have CWD, the third was taken from Divide County in deer unit 3A1, previously considered free of CWD.

“Unfortunately, the positive deer in Divide County doesn’t come as a big surprise, since CWD was found in Saskatchewan just a few miles north of Portal, N.D. last spring,” Bahnson said. “Our focus needs to now shift to taking measures to limit the spread of CWD within Divide County and to reduce the chances of it being introduced to new parts of the state.”

CWD is a fatal disease of deer, moose and elk that can cause long-term population declines if left unchecked. Since 2009, 14 CWD-positive deer have been found in North Dakota, and all previous cases were from within hunting unit 3F2, which includes parts of Sioux, Grant, Morton, Hettinger and Adams counties in southwestern North Dakota.

“Our experience with CWD in 3F2 over the past 10 years has shown that you can still have good hunting opportunities after CWD is discovered in an area, but you have to be proactive in managing it,” Bahnson said. “Over the last several years, we have found it in less than 1 percent of the deer tested from 3F2. That’s a number that we can live with, but if that number starts to climb, there will be real impacts to our deer herd.”

Special regulations previously put in place in 3F2 have included prohibiting hunting deer over bait. “There is no treatment or vaccine for CWD and once it’s in an area, it’s there indefinitely,” said Bahnson. “The very few options that we have available are aimed at reducing the number, duration, and intensity of unnatural congregations of deer – that is a major risk factor for spreading any contagious disease.”

Additional regulations in 3F2 include transportation restrictions to reduce the likelihood of infected carcass parts being moved to new areas of the state and serving as a source of CWD.

The Department will consider implementing similar regulations in response to the CWD detection in Divide County in the coming months. “CWD is the most serious disease threat to the future of big-game hunting in North Dakota,” Bahnson said. “We owe it to our children and our grandchildren to do everything we can to combat it.”

More information about CWD and regulations regarding CWD are available on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

Free Ice Fishing Weekend

North Dakota’s free ice fishing weekend is Dec. 29-30.

Resident anglers may fish that weekend without a license. All other ice fishing regulations apply.

Those interested in darkhouse spearfishing that weekend must register with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department prior to participating. Registration is available by visiting the Department’s website, gf.nd.gov, or through any Game and Fish office. Legal fish are northern pike and nongame species.

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 Dec. 6.

 

Levi Jacobson, private land biologist, Bismarck, was recognized for his work ethic and leadership efforts. He is the first Game and Fish employee to participate in the North Dakota Rural Leadership program, an 18-month program offered through North Dakota State University Extension.

 

Brandon Diehl, administrative assistant, Bismarck, was recognized for his administration, correspondence and coordination efforts that are required to meet the needs and demands of the hunter education program and its volunteers.

 

Dale Repnow, administrative officer, Bismarck, was recognized for his team-first approach, and for his friendly, calm and polite demeanor when working on his assigned duties and when presented with contentious issues.

 

In addition to special recognition recipients, Corey Erck, district game warden, Bismarck, was named North Dakota’s Boating Officer of the Year. His district includes the Missouri River, which is one of the most highly used and congested areas for boaters and water recreationists in the state. Chief game warden Robert Timian said warden Erck is extremely skilled in the detection, apprehension and prosecution of boaters who may be operating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Anglers May Not Bring Aquatic Bait into North Dakota

Anglers are reminded that it is illegal to import minnows and other forms of live aquatic bait into North Dakota.

 

Anglers should buy bait from a licensed North Dakota retail bait vendor. Bait vendors can properly identify species and have taken steps to ensure all bait is clean of any aquatic nuisance species.

For more information, refer to the 2018-20 North Dakota Fishing Guide, available at license vendors or online at the state Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov.

Fish House Regulations

Winter anglers are reminded that any fish house left unoccupied on North Dakota waters must be made out of materials that will allow it to float.

 

A popular question this time of year is if campers qualify as legal fish houses. The answer is the same for any structure taken on the ice – if it’s left unattended, it must be able to float; if it’s not able to float, it must be removed when the angler leaves the ice.

 

Other fish house regulations include:

 

  • Fish houses do not require a license.
  • Occupied structures do not require identification. However, any unoccupied fish house must have an equipment registration number issued by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, or the owner’s name, and either address or telephone number, displayed on its outside in readily distinguishable characters at least three inches high.
  • Fish houses may not be placed closer than 50 feet in any direction to another house without consent of the occupant of the other fish house.
  • All unoccupied fish houses must be removed from all waters after midnight, March 15.

 

Anglers should refer to the 2018-20 North Dakota Fishing Guide for other winter fishing regulations.

Tentative 2019 Season Opening Dates

To help North Dakota hunters prepare for hunting seasons in 2019, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department annually provides its best estimate for opening dates for the coming year.

Dates become official when approved by governor’s proclamation. Tentative opening dates for 2019 include:

 

Spring Turkey April 13
Deer and Pronghorn Bow, Mountain Lion August 30
Dove September 1
Youth Deer September 13
Sharptail, Hun, Ruffed Grouse, Squirrel September 14
Youth Waterfowl September 14
Early Resident Waterfowl September 21
Regular Waterfowl September 28
Pronghorn Gun October 4
Youth Pheasant October 5
Pheasant, Fall Turkey October 12
Mink, Muskrat, Weasel Trapping October 26
Deer Gun November 8
Deer Muzzleloader November 29

Game and Fish Provides Darkhouse Spearfishing Stats

As anglers begin another winter of darkhouse spearfishing, now is a good time to look back on last winter’s record-breaking season.

 

The 2017-18 North Dakota darkhouse spearfishing season set records for total participants and northern pike speared, according to statistics compiled by the state Game and Fish Department.

 

A total of 3,717 participants speared 28,138 pike last winter, besting the totals established during the 2015-16 season of 3,289 participants and 17,269 harvested pike. Average weight of harvested pike was 7 pounds.

 

The number of anglers who registered was 5,387, and 3,772 of those were from North Dakota. Minnesotans accounted for 1,197. The average age was 45, and 90 percent were male.

 

Devils Lake and Lake Sakakawea accounted for 30 percent of the spearing harvest in the state.

 

Spearers are reminded that all individuals who participate in darkhouse spearfishing must first register online at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. In addition, spearers age 16 and older must possess a valid fishing license.

 

When a hole greater than 10 inches in diameter is left in the ice when a darkhouse is moved, the area in the immediate vicinity of the hole must be adequately marked by the spearer with a natural object or a brightly painted or colored wooden lath.