The North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently completed a round of Advisory Board meetings at eight different locations located throughout the state. In the west, where there is a myriad of issues facing sportsmen and wildlife, one would think the meetings would attract large crowds.
While the District 2 meeting in Berthold was well attended, two other input meetings in the west were not. About a dozen sportsmen turned out for the District 1 meeting in Watford City and only five for the District 8 meeting in Hettinger. Snowy weather was an issue in Hettinger, but certainly not bad enough to keep guys home from a pheasant or deer hunt.
Kim Fundingsland is a staff writer for The Minot Daily News.
Advisory Board meetings are sessions where key representatives of Game and Fish appear before the public and inquire about issues of importance in particular areas and to explain to sportsmen how and why certain decisions were made. This year Game and Fish was very interested in learning about what deer hunters encountered during the deer gun season.
At the Berthold meeting several hunters and landowners provided good insight from their observations in the field. What about Watford City and Hettinger? Have those sportsmen just given up? I wonder. Certainly those sportsmen could have supplied plenty of information that would be helpful to future management of wildlife in those regions.
Those who have never attended such a meeting should plan on doing so. They are informative and provide answers to a lot of questions many sportsmen will likely be wondering about at a later date. All topics are covered, from season limits to game populations to land management practices, fisheries and law enforcement.
Not everyone can make every meeting, but all sportsmen should make an effort to do so whenever possible. It is much better to have a voice heard than not, only to later express disappointment about a new policy or provision. These are important times for North Dakota's wildlife. It also may be the most critical time in state history for sportsmen to provide their input. Wildlife have no voice. It must be provided for them.
Fortunately, a second chance is on the way. Game and Fish will hold a second round of Advisory Board meetings in the spring. The dates and locations have not yet been announced. I hope the meetings are all well attended by sportsmen in all eight districts.