Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Bighorn Sheep Population Up from Last Year

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s 2018 bighorn sheep survey, completed by recounting lambs in March, revealed a minimum of 283 bighorn sheep in western North Dakota, up 7 percent from 2017 and equal to the five-year average.

 

Altogether, biologists counted 84 rams, 161 ewes and 38 lambs. Not included are approximately 20 bighorns in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

 

Big game biologist Brett Wiedmann was pleased to see an increase in the survey, following a decline in 2017.

 

“The increase in the 2018 count reflects lessening effects of bacterial pneumonia that was detected in 2014,” Wiedmann said.

 

The northern badlands population increased 9 percent from 2017 and was the second highest count on record. The southern badlands population declined again to the lowest level since 1999.

 

“The total count of adult rams declined in 2018 but adult ewes increased,” Wiedmann said. “Most encouragingly was the significant increase in the lamb count and recruitment rate following record lows in 2016 and 2017.”

 

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, annual survival rates of adult bighorns are similar to those prior to the die-off and lamb survival is improving, which could indicate the population is becoming somewhat resilient to the deadly pathogens first observed in 2014,” 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.”

 

Game and Fish wildlife veterinarian Dr. Charlie Bahnson said that four of the 15 adult bighorns tested for the deadly pathogens last winter were positive.

 

A bighorn sheep hunting season is tentatively scheduled to open in 2019, 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 three licenses in 2018 and all hunters were successful in harvesting a ram.

Hunting Guide and Outfitter Test Set

The next guide and outfitter written examination is May 18 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.

Deer Gratis Application Online

Landowners who are interested in applying for a 2019 deer gratis license can fill out their application online by visiting the state Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. The general deer lottery and muzzleloader applications will be available online in early May. The deadline for applying is June 5.

Chief of administrative services Kim Kary said similar to last year, the Game and Fish Department is opening deer gratis applications a month earlier than prior years to allow additional time for landowners to apply online 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,” Kary said. “However, any changes with the land description from last year’s application must be made prior to submitting the 2019 application.”

Applications must be submitted online using a computer or smartphone. Kary suggests applicants without access to online services can submit the online application at any Game and Fish Department office or public service location, such as a library, or request help from a friend, relative or neighbor. License vendor systems are unable to process deer gratis applications.

Kary said moving to an all-electronic licensing system was initiated by the state legislature in 2015. “It has worked well for both the agency and customer by providing a user-friendly experience for the hunter and has improved the department’s time to deliver lottery results and mail tags,” she said.

Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep Apps due March 27

North Dakotan’s who want to hunt elk, moose and bighorn sheep in 2019 are reminded the deadline for submitting applications is March 27.

 

Prospective hunters can apply online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov. General lottery applications can also be submitted by calling 800-406-6409. Preferential landowner (gratis) applications must be submitted online. Paper applications are not available.

 

The status of the bighorn sheep season will be determined Sept. 1, after summer population surveys are completed. However, bighorn sheep applications must be submitted before the deadline. Once total licenses are determined for each unit in late summer, the bighorn lottery will then be held and successful applicants will be contacted to select a hunting unit.

 

Elk, moose and bighorn sheep lottery licenses are issued as once-in-a-lifetime licenses in North Dakota. Hunters who have received a license through the lottery in the past are not eligible to apply for that species again.

Pronghorn Hunting Season Statistics

Hunter success during last fall’s pronghorn hunting season was 81 percent, according to statistics provided by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

 

Game and Fish issued 1,081 licenses (701 lottery and 380 gratis), and 976 hunters took 792 pronghorn, consisting of 761 bucks, 28 does and three fawns. Each hunter spent an average of 2.7 days afield.

 

Two percent of the harvest occurred during the archery-only portion of the season.

 

The 2019 pronghorn hunting season will be determined in July.

New Licenses Needed April 1

North Dakota anglers, trappers and hunters are reminded that new licenses for the 2019-20 season are required starting April 1.

 

Licenses can be purchased online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Once the license is processed, users will have the option to print a hard copy and/or download the license to a smart phone or mobile device, which is helpful when asked to show proof of license while hunting or fishing in rural areas that lack cellular service.

 

Licenses can also be purchased at more than 140 vendor locations throughout the state, or by calling 800-406-6409. The 2019-20 small game, fishing and furbearer licenses are effective April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020.

 

New this year, hunters and anglers will be given the opportunity to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor. By clicking the link after purchasing a license, users will be directed to the North Dakota Department of Transportation donor registry. For more information regarding donor registry visit DOT’s website at http://www.dot.nd.gov/divisions/driverslicense/donorregistry.htm, or contact LifeSource directly at 888-5-DONATE.

Advisory Board Meetings Annouced

Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to attend a North Dakota Game and Fish Department spring advisory board meeting in their area.

 

These public meetings, held each spring and fall, provide citizens with an opportunity to discuss fish and wildlife issues and ask questions of their district advisors and agency personnel.

 

The governor appoints eight Game and Fish Department advisors, each representing a multi-county section of the state, to serve as a liaison between the department and public.

 

Any person who requires an auxiliary aid or service must notify the contact person at least five days prior to the scheduled meeting date.

 

District 5 – Counties: Cass, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Steele and Traill

Date: April 1 – 7 p.m.

Location: City Hall, 14497 42nd St. SE, Embden

Host: Four Corners Wildlife Club

Contact: Kent Jensen, 793-4446

Advisory board member: Duane Hanson, West Fargo, 367-4249

 

District 8 – Counties: Adams, Billings, Bowman, Dunn, Golden Valley, Hettinger, Slope and Stark

Date: April 1 – 7 p.m.

Location: Eagles Club, 21 First Ave. E., Dickinson

Host: Cannonball Company

Contact: Nicole Haase, 209-0214

Advisory board member: Dwight Hecker, Dickinson, 483-4952

 

District 1 – Counties: Divide, McKenzie and Williams

Date: April 2 – 7 p.m.

Location: Civic Center, 213 Second St. NE, Watford City

Host: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Little Missouri Chapter

Contact and advisory board member: Beau Wisness, Keene, 421-8814

 

District 4 – Counties: Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh

Date: April 2 – 7 p.m.

Location: Community Center, Minto

Host: Minto Area Sportsman’s

Contact: Keith Shutt, 520-3456

Advisory board member: Joe Solseng, 317-5009

 

District 6 – Counties: Barnes, Dickey, Foster, Griggs, Logan, LaMoure, McIntosh, Stutsman and Wells

Date: April 8 – 7 p.m.

Location: Fireside Restaurant, Ellendale

Host: Pheasants Forever

Contact: Charles Kingzett, 210-0608

Advisory board member: Cody Sand, Ashley, 357-7011

 

District 7 – Counties: Burleigh, Emmons, Grant, Kidder, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sheridan and Sioux

Date: April 8 – 7 p.m.

Location: Game and Fish Main Office, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck

Host: Lewis and Clark Wildlife Club

Contact: Dave Dewald, 471-1046

Advisory board member: Dave Nehring, Bismarck, 214-3184

 

District 2 – Counties: Bottineau, Burke, McHenry, Mountrail, Pierce, Renville and Ward

Date: April 9 – 7 p.m.

Location: Wildlife Club, 1901 Hwy 52 W., Velva

Host: Velva Wildlife Club

Contact: DJ Randolph, 720-2134

Advisory board member: Robert Gjellstad, Voltaire, 338-2281

 

District 3 – Counties: Benson, Cavalier, Eddy, Ramsey, Rolette and Towner

Date: April 9 – 7 p.m.

Location: Lake Region State College, 1801 College Dr., Devils Lake

Host:

Contact and advisory board member: Tom Rost, Devils Lake, 662-8620

 

Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep Applications Online

North Dakota’s elk, moose and bighorn sheep applications are available, and prospective hunters can apply online at the state Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

General lottery applications can also be submitted by calling 800-406-6409. Preferential landowner (gratis) applications must be submitted online. Paper applications are not available.

The deadline for applying is March 27.

A total of 478 elk licenses are available to hunters this fall, an increase of 70 from last year and the most since 2011.

Coordination among state Game and Fish, private landowners and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will continue to highlight elk management in hunting Unit E6.

A record 479 moose licenses are available in 2019, an increase of 145 from last year. Most of the increase is antlerless licenses in units M9, M10 and M11, due to an increasing moose population in these units.

Hunting units M1C and M4 will remain closed due to a continued downward trend in moose numbers in the northeastern part of the state.

As stated in the 2019-20 chronic wasting disease proclamation, hunters harvesting an elk in unit E6 or a moose in unit M10 cannot transport the whole carcass including the head and spinal column outside of the unit. More information on CWD is available by visiting the Game and Fish website.

A bighorn sheep hunting season is tentatively scheduled to open in 2019, depending on the sheep population. The status of the bighorn sheep season will be determined Sept. 1, after summer population surveys are completed. The season was closed in 2015 due to a bacterial pneumonia outbreak.

Bighorn sheep applicants must apply for a license at the same time as moose and elk, but not for a specific unit. Once total licenses are determined for each unit in late summer, the bighorn lottery will then be held and successful applicants contacted to select a hunting unit.

Because the bighorn sheep application fee is not refundable as per state law, if a bighorn season is not held, applicants would not receive a refund.

Elk, moose and bighorn sheep lottery licenses are issued as once-in-a-lifetime licenses in North Dakota. Hunters who have received a license through the lottery in the past are not eligible to apply for that species again.

Hunting and Fishing Expenditure Report Finalized

The report, commissioned by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, tracked hunter and angler expenditures for the 2017-18 hunting and fishing seasons.

 

Game and Fish Department Director Terry Steinwand said the last time the agency commissioned an economic impact study was about six years ago. “These studies help alert us to any major shifts in hunter and angler activities or participation,” Steinwand said.

 

Overall, hunters and anglers in North Dakota spent $974.4 million dollars on equipment, vehicles, boats, travel, lodging, food and many other items. In addition, these expenditures generated $1,1 billion in secondary economic benefits, gross business volume, secondary employment and state-level tax collections, according to the NDSU researchers.

 

According to the report, resident hunters and anglers accounted for $846.8 million of total expenditures, while nonresidents contributed $127.6 million. Anglers spent $787.8 million and hunters $186.6 million. Residents spent a total of $486.4 million in rural areas, while nonresidents spent $89.6 million, for a grand total of $576 million — or 59 percent of all spending — in rural areas.

 

These direct and indirect expenditures from hunters and anglers generated approximately $48.2 million in state-level tax collection.

 

“We know that hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation are an important quality of life factor for many North Dakotans,” Steinwand said. “This report reinforces the notion that economic activity associated with our outdoors is significant as well.”

 

Compared to spending in the 2011-12 season, total spending by resident hunters and anglers increased by $290.2 million, and by $41.4 million for nonresidents.

 

A complete copy of the report is available by visiting the Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.