North Dakota’s Game and Fish Department is issuing only three bighorn sheep hunting licenses this year because the western Badlands population is still dealing with a deadly bacterial pneumonia outbreak.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department
Pheasant production last year was at its lowest level in two decades, dramatically reducing the number of adult birds nesting earlier this year. While the dry conditions eased this summer and pheasant brood sizes were up from 2017, the estimated population still dropped 2 percent from last year.
Pheasant and partridge numbers similar to last year, according to roadside surveys.
There are more than 50 new lakes in North Dakota in which the walleye population is still getting established.
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows just 2 percent of North Dakota in some stage of drought. That compares with 82 percent at the same time last year.
This year’s duck brood index was up 37 percent from last year, and showed 5.11 broods per square mile, an increase of 39 percent.
North Dakota’s Game and Fish Department is more than doubling the number of pronghorn licenses this year, a dramatic turnaround from earlier this decade when the hunting season was canceled four consecutive years due to low animal numbers.
North Dakota’s 2018 pronghorn hunting season is set, with 1,075 licenses available in 10 open units. That’s way up from 410 licenses and five open units last year. But if you’re not from North Dakota, you’re out of luck – the hunt is only open to state residents.
While catch-and-release is often encouraged under the right conditions, fish reeled in from this depth will likely die if released.
“Considering not many went into Lake Sakakawea, this was one of the largest stockings of more than 8 million fingerlings into the smaller fishing waters across the state.”
Much of western North Dakota was mired in severe, extreme and even exceptional drought last summer. That reduced food and habitat for pheasants, resulting in a population loss of about 60 percent from 2016 – the lowest level in two decades. Still, wildlife officials see better days ahead.
Population index is down 30 percent from the same time last year; number of roosters heard crowing this spring reportedly down statewide, with decreases ranging from 15 to 38 percent in the primary regions holding pheasants.
Extent of the outbreak won’t be known until a summer smelt population survey, but Game and Fish isn’t overly worried.
Drought conditions and not as many hunters in the field last fall meant fewer pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge in the bag.
(Conservation Law Foundation)A fish kill affecting adult rainbow smelt is ongoing in portions of the upper half of Lake Sakakawea. Dave Fryda, Missouri River System fisheries supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the cause of the die-off has been documented in the state numerous times in the past. “The vast majority of the dead and dying…
The 15-pound, 13-ounce fish was caught this morning on the Missouri River in Bismarck.
Antlered mule deer licenses increased by 150 from last year, antlerless mule deer by 550, antlered whitetail by 150 and antlerless whitetail by 150.
Biologists counted 2,540 mule deer over 245.8 square miles during this year’s survey. That’s 45 percent above the long-term average, with overall mule deer density in the badlands at 10.3 deer per square mile, down only slightly from 10.9 in 2017, and well above low of 4.6 in 2012.
For the ninth consecutive year, the success rate of deer hunters in North Dakota in 2017 was below the 70 percent threshold that state wildlife officials consider a good season. Hunter success rate is one of the factors considers when determining deer licenses numbers, and “It very well may look like the number of licenses issued in 2017. It doesn’t jump out that there could be a great increase coming.”
A total of 21,042 applications were received for moose, 18,079 for elk and 14,617 for bighorn sheep.
(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)Hunter success during last fall’s pronghorn hunting season was 75 percent, according to statistics provided by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Game and Fish issued 410 licenses (255 lottery and 155 gratis), and 366 hunters took 275 pronghorn – 264 bucks, 10 does and one fawn. Each hunter spent an average of 2.4 days…
State wildlife officials are still confident that this year’s fall hunting season will be held, though possibly with fewer licenses.
Down 11 percent from 2016 and 9 percent below the five-year average. Status of bighorn sheep hunting season will be determined Sept. 1, after the summer population survey is completed.
The whoopers that do make their way through North Dakota are part of a population of about 400 birds that are on their way from wintering grounds at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas to their nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada, a distance of about 2,500 miles. Anyone seeing these endangered birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.
Mule deer hunters did particularly well, with buck success at 83 percent, antlerless mule deer 86 percent.
North Dakota’s 2018-20 fishing proclamation is set, with regulations effective April 1, 2018 through March 31, 2020. Noteworthy regulation changes include: The season for taking of nongame fish with a bow will now be open year-round. The transportation of live white suckers, other than within Richland, Cass, Traill, Grand Forks, Walsh and Pembina counties, is now illegal. The beginning of…