Whooping cranes are in the midst of their spring migration and sightings will increase as they make their way through North Dakota over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.
As expected, North Dakota deer hunters took fewer deer last fall than in previous years, according to harvest statistics recently finalized by the State Game and Fish Department.
Slightly more than 95,000 hunters took more than 49,000 deer during the 2011 deer gun season. Hunter success was 51 percent, down from 64 percent in 2010 and well below the annual average of 70 percent during the past decade.
North Dakotaâ€™s 2012 moose, elk and bighorn sheep proclamation has been finalized and applications are available at the State Game and Fish Departmentâ€™s website. The deadline for applying is March 28.
A total of 301 elk licenses are available to hunters this fall, 200 fewer than last year.
The 2012 spring wild turkey lottery has been held and more than 700 licenses remain in nine units. The governorâ€™s proclamation allows a maximum of two licenses, and hunters who did not apply in the first drawing are also eligible.
2011 Bighorn Sheep, Moose and Elk Harvests
Harvest statistics released by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department show overall hunter success during the 2011 season for bighorn sheep was 100 percent, 88 percent for moose and 50 percent for elk.
Four bighorn sheep units were open in 2011. Game and Fish issued one license in unit B1/B2, two licenses in unit B3, and two licenses in unit B4. One additional auction license holder was able to hunt any open area. All six hunters tagged adult rams.
North Dakotaâ€™s 2012-14 fishing proclamation is set, with regulations effective April 1, 2012 through March 31, 2014. In addition, anglers are reminded that new fishing licenses are required April 1.
Spring Light Goose Licenses Available
Light goose hunters planning to hunt during North Dakotaâ€™s spring season can purchase a license online at the state Game and Fish Departmentâ€™s website. The season opens Feb. 18 and continues through May 6.
Residents can hunt during the spring season by having last fallâ€™s 2011-12 bird licenses. Otherwise, hunters will need to purchase either a 2012-13 combination license; or a small game, and general game and habitat license.
Great Lakes Wolf Population Delisted
The recent decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the Great Lakes population of gray wolves from federal protection might not seem as important in North Dakota as some of the other states in the Midwest, but it is significant nonetheless.
The state Game and Fish Department is offering 5,795 wild turkey licenses for the spring hunting season, a decrease of 925 from last year. The decrease is a result of additional winter mortality the last three years and poor production during spring 2011.
Ten of the 22 hunting units have fewer spring licenses than in 2011, while 11 remain the same. Unit 21 (most of Hettinger and Adams counties) is again closed in 2012 due to lack of turkeys in the unit.
The annual mid-winter bald eagle survey conducted Jan. 13 along the Missouri River stretching from Bismarck to the Garrison Dam showed a record number of bald eagles, according to Patrick T. Isakson, conservation biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
A total of 108 bald eagles were counted, breaking the previous best of 85 in 2008. â€śThe mild winter has kept the river open and a lot of waterfowl in the area,â€ť Isakson said, while mentioning the availability of prey is also indicative of the number of eagles wintering in the state.