Published March 21, 2022

Game and Fish Briefs

Written by
The Dakotan
| The Dakotan

Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep Apps Due

Elk, moose and bighorn sheep applications must be submitted online before midnight, March 23.

Applicants can apply by visiting My Account at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

Elk, moose and bighorn sheep lottery licenses are issued as once-in-a-lifetime licenses in North Dakota. Hunters who have received a license through the lottery in the past are not eligible to apply for that species again.

Animal Health Officials Monitoring Avian Influenza Outbreak

Animal health officials with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and North Dakota Department of Agriculture are monitoring a national outbreak of a foreign strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza detected in a number of central and eastern states since December.

The virus can cause high levels of sickness and death in domestic poultry but has also been attributed to a number of cases in free ranging waterfowl, shorebirds and raptors. Cases of HPAI may be detected in North Dakota as waterfowl migrate into the state and may persist into spring.

Avian influenza viruses rarely infect people, but hunters should consider precautions to limit exposure. These include avoiding handling sick animals, wearing gloves when dressing game, washing hands and equipment thoroughly, and cooking meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

The Game and Fish Department asks the public’s help in monitoring the outbreak in wild birds. Report any sick or dead birds through the online form gf.nd.gov/mortality-report.

The Department of Agriculture encourages poultry owners to use biosecurity measures such as: keeping visitors to a minimum, washing hands before and after contact with live poultry, changing clothes before and after exiting their property, and looking for signs of illness. Report sick domestic birds to U.S. Department of Agriculture (1-866-536-7593).

More information about HPAI can be found at usgs.gov/centers/nwhc.

Paddlefish Tags Online

North Dakota’s paddlefish snagging season opens Sunday, May 1, and one noteworthy regulation change involves the sale and distribution of paddlefish tags.

Paddlefish tags are only available for purchase online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov, and during normal business hours at Game and Fish Department offices in Bismarck, Dickinson and Williston.

Snaggers buying tags online should plan accordingly and allow for a few days delivery through the mail.

2022-24 Fishing Regulations Set

North Dakota’s 2022-24 fishing proclamation is set, with regulations effective April 1, 2022, through March 31, 2024. New fishing licenses are required April 1.

Anglers can find the 2022-24 North Dakota Fishing Guide online at the state Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, or at Game and Fish Department offices and license vendors throughout the state.

Noteworthy regulation changes include:

  • Increased the statewide smallmouth/largemouth bass daily limit from 3 to 5 and possession limit from 6 to 10. 
  • Allow for the taking of walleye during the darkhouse spearfishing season for the Missouri River System, Devils Lake and Stump Lake.
  • Paddlefish tags are available for purchase online, and at the Bismarck, Dickinson and Williston Game and Fish offices during normal business hours.

The 2022-23 fishing licenses can be purchased online by visiting the Game and Fish website.

Whooping Crane Migration

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 endangered birds as they move through the state should report sightings so the birds can be tracked.

The whooping cranes that do travel through North Dakota are part of a population of about 500 birds on their way from wintering grounds in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas to nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada, a distance of about 2,500 miles.

Whoopers stand about 5 feet tall and have a wingspan of about 7 feet from tip to tip. They are bright white with black wing tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. In flight, they extend their long necks forward, while their long, slender legs extend out behind the tail. Whooping cranes typically migrate singly, or in groups of 2-3 birds, and may be associated with sandhill cranes.

Other white birds such as snow geese, swans and egrets are often mistaken for whooping cranes. The most common misidentification is pelicans, because their wingspan is similar and they tuck their pouch in flight, leaving a silhouette similar to a crane when viewed from below.

Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them, but record the date, time, location and the birds' activity. Observers should also look for and report colored bands, which may occur on one or both legs. Whooping cranes have been marked with colored leg bands to help determine their identity.

Whooping crane sightings should be reported to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices at Lostwood, 701-848-2466; Audubon, 701-442-5474; the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, 701-328-6300; or to local game wardens across the state. Reports help biologists locate important whooping crane habitat areas, monitor marked birds, determine survival and population numbers, and identify times and migration routes.

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