Souris Valley DU chapter honored
Minot's Souris Valley chapter of Ducks Unlimited was recently recognized as one of the Top 100 Ducks Unlimited chapters in the United States. To achieve Top 100 status, a chapter must raise up to $100,000 for DU's conservation mission. There are more than 2,700 DU chapters nationwide.
"These fundraising events are the backbone of DU's habitat conservation efforts, and the volunteers who make up these chapters are the grassroots force making a difference for North American waterfowl populations," said DU President George Dunklin. "It takes a great deal of effort to achieve these levels and these chapters deserve to be congratulated by every person who enjoys the outdoors."
Bighorn sheep population stable
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department's annual bighorn sheep survey revealed a minimum of 293 bighorn sheep in western North Dakota, virtually unchanged from the previous count of 297. Biologists counted 85 rams, 159 ewes and 49 lambs. Not included are 24 bighorn sheep introduced from Alberta in February, and approximately 30 bighorns in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Big game biologist Brett Wiedmann said the count in the northern badlands was the highest on record, beating the previous record set in 2012, but the southern badlands population declined 15 percent.
"Rams and lambs showed a slight decline, but adult ewes increased," Wiedmann said. "About 75 percent of lambs counted during last summer's survey survived the winter, which is about average, but the recruitment rate of 37 percent was above average."
Game and Fish Department biologists count and classify all bighorn sheep in late summer, and then recount lambs the following March, as they approach 1 year of age, to determine recruitment.
Wiedmann is encouraged by another year of healthy numbers of lambs because it is indicative of a healthy population. "Adult mortality was also low last winter, so we expect another good crop of lambs to begin hitting the ground within a few weeks," he said.
Game and Fish allocated five bighorn sheep hunting licenses for 2014, one more than 2013.
Confiscated gear auction May 3
Confiscated hunting and fishing equipment will be sold Saturday, May 3, at the North Dakota Wildlife Federation's Report All Poachers auction in Minot. The auction is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the North Dakota State Fair Center's 4-H hall.
Auction items can be viewed between noon and 2 p.m. Items include more than 70 rifles, shotguns and handguns; fishing equipment; bows; knives; spotlights; coolers and other miscellaneous merchandise. More information, including a comprehensive list of items for auction, is available by visiting the wildlife federation's website at (ndwf.org).
Proceeds from the auction fund the RAP program. The RAP line, 800-472-2121, offers monetary rewards for information that leads to conviction of fish and wildlife law violators. The RAP line is available 24 hours a day, and callers can remain anonymous.
Guide, outfitter test May 17
The next guide and outfitter written examination is May 17 at 1 p.m. at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department office in Bismarck. The test is given periodically to anyone interested in becoming a hunting guide or outfitter in the state.
In addition to passing a written exam, qualifications for becoming a guide include a background check for criminal and game and fish violations; certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and standard first aid; and employment by or contract with a licensed hunting outfitter.
Hunting outfitter eligibility requirements include the guide qualifications, plus an individual must have held a hunting guide license for two years and must have proof of liability insurance. Interested individuals are required to pre-register by calling the Game and Fish Department's enforcement office at 328-6604.
Open fires banned on Oahe WMA
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is prohibiting open burning this spring on property managed south of Bismarck and Mandan, as a means to reduce potential for wildfires on a heavily wooded recreation area along the Missouri River.
Bill Haase, wildlife resource management supervisor, said all open burning, including campfires, is banned until further notice on the Oahe Wildlife Management Area along both sides of the Missouri River. Haase said these woodlands are prone to wildfires prior to spring green-up.
Oahe WMA covers more than 16,000 acres along Lake Oahe south of Bismarck-Mandan, in portions of Burleigh, Emmons and Morton counties.