West Fargo Regardless of whether spring comes early or late, North Dakota's paddlefish snagging season starts May 1. A quick review show's this highly managed, unique resource is specifically regulated, monitored and adjusted where needed. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has established some new rules related to paddlefish snagging this year, but before I get into those, I thought it would be of interest to highlight a timeline of paddlefish regulation changes throughout the years.
West Fargo I drove by a bald eagle nest the other day, and then another and another. It wasn't my intention as it was actually a route I drive on a pretty regular basis. I have known about all three of these nests for a number of years, and there is only about 40 miles in total distance between them.
West Fargo The extended winter or late spring has delayed some migrations, and even though two whooping cranes were verified in North Dakota on March 29, it will probably still be later April before all these birds have worked their way through the state. Whenever that occurs, it's likely that I will have gone another year without seeing one of these endangered birds alive in the wild.
West Fargo As I write this, there is snow falling from the sky and accumulating on the ground. Yes, the calendar reads April and North Dakota's spring light goose conservation ordered opened Feb. 17. The good news is the season continues through May 13 and this spring preparation and scouting are as important as ever, as not many birds have yet crossed the North Dakota border. When the time comes, the flocks will likely pass through in a hurry.
West Fargo One advantage for North Dakota anglers is our fishing season for game fish is alll year. That said though, there is a beginning and end to the fishing license period, and that occurs April 1, as it does for hunting and trapping licenses. So, if you want to fish starting April 1, you need to get that new 2018-19 license. Another benchmark for April 1 this year is that a new fishing proclamation goes into effect. North Dakota's fishing regulations cover a two-year period, so this year's changes apply through March 31, 2020.
West Fargo Even though the odds of drawing a moose, elk or bighorn sheep license in North Dakota are not high, you of course can't get one if you don't apply. Year in and year out, I field many calls and emails from prospective hunters about how they might improve those odds, such as applying for a cow license versus a bull or "any," license in a particular unit. This information from the previous year is also available on the state Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov when you apply for a moose, elk or sheep license.
West Fargo The work of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's enforcement division and its member game wardens is of high interest to hunters and anglers. For good reason. People want to know that laws are being enforced and that the illegal taking of fish and wildlife is a priority and taken seriously. As part of the effort to keep hunters and anglers informed about enforcement activities, the Game and Fish Department each year publishes an annual review in the pages of North Dakota "Outdoors" magazine.
West Fargo The days continue to add minutes of sunlight, the spring turkey application deadline is past, and before you know it spring open-water fishing will be the hot topic. Before the first email or call regarding some form of question or suggestion on special regulations for Devils Lake, here's insight from Todd Caspers, North Dakota Game and Fish Department Devils Lake fisheries biologist:
West Fargo A few weeks back, I did my little part of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's midwinter waterfowl survey, as I've done years in the past, and which biologists across the nation do each year. Friends wonder why? Why count ducks and geese in January? The midwinter waterfowl survey is a nationwide effort to assess winter distribution and abundance of waterfowl across North America. It got its start in the 1930s, and for awhile it was a major source of information for developing hunting regulations until breeding ground surveys were initiated in 1955.
West Fargo The National Archery in the Schools Program took root in North Dakota in 2005, not long after its successful launch in Kentucky a couple of years earlier. Since then, the program has grown consistently. In North Dakota in 2017, more than a hundred schools and thousands of students participated, culminating in a state tournament that has broken attendance records several years in a row.