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Watchable Wildlife checkoff

165,000 Canada geese in the state.

Andy Dinges, department migratory game bird biologist, said an estimated 67,200 Canada geese were observed on the Missouri River from MacLean Bottoms Wildlife Management Area south of Bismarck to Garrison Dam. An additional 65,100 Canada geese were observed on the lower portion of Lake Sakakawea, which still had substantial open water during this year’s survey. Nelson Lake in Oliver County was also holding 13,600 Canada geese. The remainder were scattered throughout the state in areas with open water.

Dinges said after summarizing the numbers, an additional 34,200 mallards were tallied statewide. Most were observed on Lake Sakakawea and Nelson Lake.

“We’ve had an unusually mild winter with little snow accumulation. Availability of food should have been good and overall wintering conditions were excellent,” he said.

The first large waves of migrating waterfowl, according to Dinges, occurred during the last two weeks in October.

“After that short cold spell, above average temperatures, with little snow accumulation, allowed birds to remain in the state on the Missouri River System up until the survey date,” he said. “In addition, several reservoirs in the state that are typically frozen by late November had small pockets of open water and were still holding some birds.”

The 10-year average (2011-20) for the midwinter survey in North Dakota is 107,400 Canada geese and 21,800 mallards.

CWD test results

With most chronic wasting disease testing completed, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reports 18 deer tested positive during the 2020 hunting season.

Fourteen were from hunting unit 3F2, two were from unit 3A1 and one was from unit 4B. A white-tailed deer harvested in unit 3A2 also tested positive and was the first detection in the unit.

CWD is a fatal disease of deer, moose and elk that can cause long-term population declines as infection rates climb.

The estimated infection rates in unit 3F2 were 5.1% in mule deer and 2.2% in whitetail deer. It was less than 2% in other positive units. Approximately 7% of hunters turned in heads for testing in units where the Department was focusing surveillance efforts.

Game and Fish will use its 2020 surveillance data to guide its CWD management strategy moving forward. More information about CWD can be found at gf.nd.gov/cwd.

Watchable Wildlife checkoff

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.

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