Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Game and Fish Violations Tallied for 2017

While game and fish violations were up in 2017, the number of citations has remained relatively consistent in North Dakota from year to year.


Robert Timian, chief of enforcement for the state Game and Fish Department, said there are three basic causes of violations – intentional disregard of the rules, lack of knowledge of the rules and just simply mistakes.


“Violations due to lack of knowledge can easily be addressed by taking the time to read through the regulations,” Timian said. “Mistakes can be reduced by taking a little more care and time.”


Wardens check thousands of hunters and anglers each year, and Timian said the majority are law-abiding citizens.


Game wardens issued more than 2,500 citations in 2017, compared to nearly 2,300 in 2016 and 2,400 in 2015.


“There are some factors why violations were up in 2017,” Timian said. “For one, we had a full warden staff for the entire year, in addition to one temporary position, and another reason was all of our wardens at one time or another during the 2016 fall hunting seasons and into 2017 were assisting with efforts at the pipeline protest.”


The same violations occur at or near the top of the list every year, Timian said, such as failure to have a license, and boating/fishing without the proper number of life jackets. But he emphasized there is one area of violation that has increased every year.


“Aquatic nuisance species violations are up,” he added. “We put a lot of effort into ANS enforcement, as we work toward a time when boaters and anglers make it a habit to check their equipment.”


Counties with the most violations in 2017 were Burleigh (251), Ramsey (234), McLean (206), McKenzie (175) and Morton (172).


The most common violations and number issued in 2017 were:


  • Boating (643): inadequate number of personal flotation devices (255); use of unlicensed/unnumbered boat (138); and failure to display boat registration (121).
  • Fishing (348): aquatic nuisance species violations (130); exceeding limit (87); and excessive lines (53).
  • Small game (262): using shotgun capable of holding more than three shells (56); failure to leave identification of sex on game (51); exceeding limit (19); and hunting in unharvested field (19).
  • Big game (95): tagging violations (31); failure to wear orange (17); and hunting in closed season (10).
  • Furbearer (35): shining/using artificial light (13); and harassment with motor vehicle (10).
  • Licensing (622): failure to carry license (334); hunting/fishing/trapping without proper license (235); and misrepresentation on license or application (21).
  • General (296): loaded firearm in vehicle (64); hunting on posted land without permission (59); and littering (52).
  • Miscellaneous (126): open container (28); criminal trespass (28); and minor in possession (17).
  • Wildlife management areas/refuge (94): failure to obey posted regulations (29); camping (21); and possession of glass beverage containers (14).



paddlefish season for 2013 set a record…for citations

North Dakota game wardens issued a record number of citations during the recent paddlefish snagging season.

From opening day May 1until the season closed May 19, wardens cited more than 170 individuals as part of an annual saturation effort in Williams and McKenzie counties. Last year the citation total for a similar timeframe was 82.

Robert Timian, enforcement chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the agency has for many years brought in wardens from other areas of the state to help during the paddlefish snagging season. “Our main priority is to protect the paddlefish resource from illegal harvest,” Timian said. “However, paddlefish snagging is not the only outdoor activity during this time.”

For instance, only 11 of the 177 total violations were directly related to paddlefishing. The most prevalent violation was fishing without a license, involving 41 nonresidents and 12 residents. Littering was another common infraction, with 19 citations issued.

The wardens also patrol several thousand acres of state wildlife management areas in the two counties and issued 21 citations for possession of glass beverage containers and 14 citations for prohibited use of a motor vehicle.

In addition, wardens also cited numerous individuals with open containers containing alcohol in motor vehicles, and minors in possession of alcohol, and made three arrests on felony warrants and turned four drug-related incidents over to county sheriffs.

“On our management areas,” Timian emphasized, “we’re full service law enforcement.”

Enforcement saturation efforts are conducted statewide depending on the need, Timian said. “This isn’t only done in the northwest during the paddlefish season,” he added. “We bring in wardens for additional support for short-term, specific operations in other areas of the state as well.”


Paddlefish/WMA operation at Williston, ND May 1-19, 2013

Summary of violations


Wildlife Management Areas — 37 Citations

21 – Possession of glass beverage containers on a WMA

14 – Prohibited use of a motor vehicle on WMA

1 – Failure to Obey Posted WMA regulations-Camping when restricted

1 – Unlawful use of firearms in a reckless or indiscriminate manner on WMA


Paddlefishing — 11 Citations

7 – Depositing fish/fish parts on shore (paddlefish)

3 – Paddlefishing before or after legal hours

1 – Cast or attempt to hook paddlefish for another


Fishing – Other than Paddlefish — 77 Citations

41 – Nonresident fishing without a license

16 – Failure to carry fishing license on person

12 – Resident fishing without a license

3 – Fishing with an excessive number of lines

3 – Failure to attend fishing equipment

1 – Returning fish to water after being contained or confined to live well or stinger

1 – Depositing fish/fish parts on shore


Boating — 12 Citations and 1 Warning

7 – Boating with inadequate number of personal flotation devices

2 – Operating a motorboat without current registration

1 – Operate motorboat without lights when required

1 – Towing without an observer

1 – Operate a motorboat at greater than idle speed in restricted area

1 – Warning for operating without lights when required


Miscellaneous — 40 Citations and 1 Warning

19 – Littering

9 – Open receptacle containing alcohol in or on a motor vehicle

9 – Minor in possession of alcohol

4 – Drug-related incidents turned over to sheriff’s department

3 – Arrests made on felony warrants

1 – MIP warning

1 – Impersonating a game warden – 5 counts


2013 – Total Citations Issued: 177 and 2 warnings

2012 – Total Citations Issued: 82 and 7 warnings