The February edition of North Dakota Outdoors is now available online at https://gf.nd.gov/magazine/2020/feb
North Dakota citizens with an interest in supporting wildlife conservation programs are reminded to look for the Watchable Wildlife checkoff on the state tax form.
The state income tax form gives wildlife enthusiasts an opportunity to support nongame wildlife like songbirds and birds of prey, while at the same time contributing to programs that help everyone enjoy all wildlife.
The checkoff – whether you are receiving a refund or having to pay in – is an easy way to voluntarily contribute to sustain this long‑standing program. In addition, direct donations to the program are accepted any time of year.
To learn more about Watchable Wildlife program activities, visit the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website at gf.nd.gov.
Eight deer taken during the 2019 North Dakota deer gun season tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to Dr. Charlie Bahnson, wildlife veterinarian for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
All were antlered deer taken from areas previously known to have CWD – six from unit 3F2 and two from 3A1. Bahnson said six of the eight were mule deer, with two whitetails from unit 3F2. CWD was not detected in any deer harvested in the eastern portion of the state where hunter-harvested surveillance was conducted last fall. In addition, no elk or moose tested positive.
“Only about 15% of hunters submit heads for testing in units where CWD has been found, so the infection rate is more meaningful than the raw number of positive animals found,” Bahnson said. “Approximately 3% of harvested mule deer were infected with CWD in unit 3F2, and roughly 2% in unit 3A1. Our infection rate in whitetails in 3F2 was about 1%.
“Overall,” he continued, “we could probably live with these current infection rates long-term, but they suggest an upward trend and we’ve certainly seen an expansion in the known distribution of the disease. We need to continue to try to limit the spread within our herds as best as we can. CWD is a fatal disease of deer, moose and elk that can cause long-term population declines if left unchecked.”
Bahnson said the eight positive deer put the total at 11 detected since Sept 1. As previously reported, two mule deer taken in September tested positive for CWD – one was harvested during the archery season from deer gun unit 4B and one during the youth season in unit 3A1. CWD was also detected in a white-tailed deer from unit 3F2 that was euthanized in December following a report from the public that it appeared sick and was displaying erratic behavior.
Game and Fish will use its 2019 surveillance data to guide its CWD management strategy moving forward. More information about CWD can be found at the Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov/cwd.
Landowners in southwestern North Dakota are again able to enroll in the state Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture opened a new signup period in early December.
In addition, USDA also announced an open signup for the general Conservation Reserve Program, which is open until Feb. 29.
The North Dakota Riparian Project CREP, first offered in spring 2017, allows states to identify resource concerns and design custom-built projects along riparian areas.
“Over a 10-year period, approximately $19 million in federal funds from the USDA Farm Service Agency can be used to provide annual rental, incentive and cost-share payments for filter strips, riparian buffers, or pollinator and honeybee habitat,” according to Kevin Kading, private land section supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
The state will contribute more than $4.3 million, which is funded from the Game and Fish Private Land Open To Sportsmen program, and the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund.
“We’ve worked a long time developing these projects with USDA, and working with other partners and stakeholders,” Kading said. “We feel these are good options for landowners to address a resource concern, and also open up some quality habitat for hunters.”
Landowners interested in CREP can enroll acres in portions of Adams, Billings, Bowman, Burleigh, Dunn, Emmons, Grant, Golden Valley, Hettinger, McKenzie, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sioux, Slope and Stark counties. The statewide enrollment cap for this program is 20,000 acres.
Expired, or expiring CRP is not eligible for the North Dakota Riparian Project CREP at this time, Kading said. Land offered must meet FSA cropping history requirements and be located within the project boundary.
There is no minimum acreage requirement for enrolling land into CREP, but any land enrolled in a CREP contract with USDA must also be enrolled in the Game and Fish PLOTS program. Kading said landowners don’t have to allow public access to their entire property, but the PLOTS tract must be at least 40 acres in size.
Landowners will receive payments for allowing walk-in hunting access, and are eligible for additional habitat enhancements, incentives and cost-share.
For information regarding the project, landowners should contact a local Game and Fish private land biologist or their local county USDA service center.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists are encouraging ice anglers to keep fish caught from deep waters.
Catch-and-release fishing, no matter the time of year, is discouraged for fish caught in 30 feet or more of water because fish reeled in from those depths have a greater chance of dying if released.
Fish caught in deep water won’t likely survive because of the extreme change in water pressure, which causes the swim bladder to expand. Fish can no longer control their balance in the water column when this happens. Other internal injuries, such as rupturing of organs and bleeding, are also likely for fish caught from deep waters.
Devils Lake ice anglers commonly catch yellow perch in 30-45 feet of water during the winter months. This practice also translates to other deep water bodies around the state.
Game and Fish recommends that anglers targeting fish in deeper water make the commitment to keep what they catch. And once they reach their limit, anglers should stop fishing at that depth to avoid killing more than their limit of fish.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds winter anglers to clean up the ice after fishing. This not only applies to trash, but fish as well.
It is not only unsightly, but it is illegal to leave fish, including minnows used for bait, behind on the ice. According to state fishing regulations, when a fish is caught, anglers must either immediately release the fish back into the water unharmed, or reduce them to their daily possession.
It is common practice for some anglers to fillet fish on the ice, which is allowed, as long as fish entrails and other parts are removed from the ice and properly disposed of at home.
In addition, all trash, including aluminum cans, cigarette butts and Styrofoam containers, must be packed out and taken home.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel recently added new fishing waters to the list of available contour maps on the Game and Fish website.
In addition, Jerry Weigel, fisheries production and development section leader, said maps of existing waters have been reprocessed to improve detail and quality. “We have access to more tools and options to create a better map then we did back in the early 2000s when most contour mapping occurred,” Weigel said.
Contour maps recently added or improved are: Fox Lake, Barnes County; Bowman-Haley Dam, Bowman County; Powers Lake, Burke County; Crimmins Lake, Burleigh County; North Washington Lake, Eddy County; Rice Lake, Emmons County; Larimore Dam, Grand Forks County; Alkaline Lake and Lake Geneva, Kidder County; Buffalo Lodge Lake and Cottonwood Lake, McHenry County; Kislingbury Lake and Lehr Wildlife Management Area, McIntosh County; Arnegard Dam, McKenzie County; Coal Lake, McLean County; Clearwater Lake, Mountrail County; Buffalo Lake, Pierce County; Hinsz Lake, Sheridan County; Dickinson Reservoir, Stark County; North Golden Lake, Steele County; and Epping Springbrook Dam, Williams County.
All contour maps are available by accessing the fishing link at gf.nd.gov/fishing, then clicking on “where to fish.”
The 2020 North Dakota OUTDOORS calendar is available for ordering online at the state Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov.
The calendar features outstanding color photographs of North Dakota wildlife and scenery, and includes season opening and application deadline dates, sunrise-sunset times and moon phases.
Calendars are also available via mail order. Send $3 for each, plus $1 postage, to: Calendar, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095.
The calendar is the North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine’s December issue, so current subscribers should have already received it in the mail.
Individuals interested in taking a hunter education class in 2020 are reminded to register early, as most classes are held the first few months of the calendar year.
Interested students must click on the education link at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Classes are listed by city and can also be sorted by start date. Classes will be added throughout the year as they become finalized.
To register for a class, click on “enroll” next to the specific class, and follow the simple instructions. Personal information is required.
Individuals interested in receiving a notice by email when each hunter education class is added, can click on the “subscribe to news and alerts” link found below the news section on the Game and Fish home page. Check the box labeled “hunter education” under the education program updates.
In addition, SMS text notifications of new classes can be sent directly to a cell phone. Simply text “NDGF HunterClass” to 468311 to subscribe to this feature.
State law requires anyone born after Dec. 31, 1961 to pass a certified hunter education course to hunt in the state. Hunter education is mandatory for youth who are turning 12 years old. Children who turn age 11 during the calendar year can take the class.