Archive of Hunting Reports

January2011

Another Tough Winter for Wildlife

Posted: January 31, 2011

It may sound like a broken record, but North Dakota’s weather in February and March will once again be critical to the health of the state’s wildlife populations.

Randy Kreil, North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife chief, said wildlife populations have had to struggle with tough conditions through three consecutive winters. “Animals definitely could use a reprieve,” he said. “They are not as resilient as they were in the beginning of winter. The longer winter drags on, the greater the impact to wildlife populations and next fall’s hunting opportunities.”

Record to near-record snowfall has blanketed much of North Dakota each winter since 2008-09. Because of winter mortality, the number of deer licenses in 2010 was significantly reduced by nearly 30,000, and the pronghorn population was too low to sustain a hunting season last fall.

This winter, the Game and Fish Department has received reports of pheasant losses, but the extent is unknown. Kreil said birds seem to be doing okay in some areas, but no doubt have suffered losses in other areas. “What this winter will mean in terms of pheasant hunting opportunities next fall is hard to tell,” he added. “For the most part, birds were able to adapt the past two winters under similar conditions. But then again, good nesting habitat in spring allowed them to rebound. However, with the continued loss of Conservation Reserve Program acres, their ability to rebound could be impaired.”

Reports of dying or dead deer are not uncommon in tough winters, and this holds true this winter as well. Mostly fawns and older deer are affected by the cold and wind. In addition, heavy snow cover prevents deer from accessing their usual food sources, which can result in deer dying because of grain overload – a result of deer switching their natural diet to a diet comprised of mostly corn and/or other grains.

Because deer often gather near farms and ranches in winter, department personnel are working with approximately 200 livestock producers to protect stored feed supplies. This number is similar to last year at this time, but is still far below the winter of 1996-97 when Game and Fish staff worked with more than 1,000 different producers on deer depredation issues.

No wildlife species has suffered the harsh realities of winter more so than pronghorn, as the population has declined by more than 50 percent since 2008. Kreil said there is little doubt pronghorn are in a vulnerable state due to deep snow, and in some cases have limited movement because herds are prevented from moving to areas with less snow.

While this winter so far has been tough on wildlife, Kreil said the next several weeks are critical. “Animals have been stressed for a couple months now, and they don’t have the energy they had in early winter,” Kreil said. “A mild February and March is much needed, and if we get a break we will see the benefits next fall. If not, then hunters will need to adjust their expectations in 2011.”

Courtesy of ND Game & Fish

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Spring Turkey Season Set, Online Apps Available

Posted: January 24, 2011

The state Game and Fish Department is offering 6,720 wild turkey licenses for the spring hunting season, an increase of 80 from last year. The increase is a result of better turkey production in spring 2010, mostly in the hunting units bordering the Missouri River.

Six of the 22 hunting units have an increase in the number of spring licenses from 2010, while three have a decrease. Unit 21 (most of Hettinger and Adams counties) will remain closed in 2011 due to lack of turkeys in the unit.

Successful spring turkey applicants must purchase a 2011-12 hunting license, as last year’s 2010-11 licenses expire March 31. In addition to the spring turkey license, hunters must have a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate, and a general game and habitat license. Also, hunters ages 16 and older must possess a small game license, or combination license.

First-time spring turkey hunters ages 15 or younger are eligible to receive one spring license valid for the regular hunting season in a specific unit. To be eligible, the youth hunter must be 15 or younger on opening day of spring turkey season, and have never received a spring turkey license in North Dakota.

Spring turkey applicants can apply online at the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Applications can also be submitted by calling (800) 406-6409.

Application forms will also be available by Feb. 1 at most license vendors, county auditors and Game and Fish offices. The deadline for applying is Feb. 16. Online or phone applications must be logged before midnight that day.

Spring turkey licenses are available only to North Dakota residents. The spring turkey season opens April 9 and continues through May 15.

Courtesy of North Dakota Game & Fish

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