North Dakota’s 2013 moose, elk and bighorn sheep proclamation is finalized and applications are available at the State Game and Fish Department’s website. The deadline for applying is March 27.
A total of 111 moose licenses are available in 2013, 32 fewer than last year. Randy Kreil, Game and Fish Department wildlife chief, said a downward population trend in the northeastern portion of the state is of great concern. “Unit M1C will remain closed,” Kreil said, “and in addition, unit M4, which encompasses the Turtle Mountains, is also closed this year.”
In 2012, unit M4 had only seven moose licenses, Kreil added, with only two moose harvested.
Game and Fish is also making a couple of other changes designed to bolster the moose population. All licenses this year are for “any moose,” while in previous years some were specific to antlerless moose.
“We think that the ‘any’ tags will protect the cow segment of the population,” Kreil said, “as records indicate most hunters choose to fill their ‘any’ tags with a bull rather than a cow.”
The moose season in units M8, M9 and M10 will open a week later than in previous years to avoid the peak of the rut. Data collected over the last year indicates a number of unbred cows were documented in those units, Kreil said, and opening the season a week later in October may improve breeding success by reducing disturbance during the peak of the mating season.
A total of 261 elk licenses are available to hunters this fall, 40 fewer than last year. The number of elk licenses in units E3 and E4 is reduced by 40 due to the successful population reduction effort by the National Park Service in Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s south unit. A total of 937 elk – 701 adult cows – were taken out of the park by the reduction effort, and an additional 363 elk were taken by licensed hunters in E3 and E4 during the last three hunting seasons.
Based on a recent elk survey, the estimated number of elk in the park is below 200, Kreil said. On the positive side, elk unit E1 has been expanded to include parts of the Turtle Mountains, due to a growing elk population largely attributed to animals migrating in from Canada.
The bighorn sheep season will have four licenses available, the same as last year. One license is available in units B1/B2, B3 and B4. In addition, one license is auctioned through the Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation. The bighorn sheep hunter drawing the license in units B1/B2 is eligible to hunt both units.
To apply online, access the Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov. Paper applications will be available on the website (for printing) and at license vendors the week of March 11.
Bighorn sheep, moose and elk 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.