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Published May 15, 2023

ND Game and Fish News 

Written by
Kim Fundingsland
| The Dakotan

ANS Awareness Week 

May 14-20 is Aquatic Nuisance Species Awareness Week in North Dakota in an effort to raise the public’s understanding of the preventative steps recreationists need to follow to stop the introduction and spread of ANS in the state’s waterways. 

ANS are nonnative plants, animals or pathogens that can affect the ecology of our lakes and rivers and the economic and recreational value of those waterways. 

State Game and Fish Department ANS coordinator Ben Holen said ANS awareness week is comprised of state and federal agencies highlighting the ongoing efforts taking place in North Dakota. 

“Many partners are taking a collaborative approach by reaching water recreationists, cabin owners, pet owners and water users about stopping the spread of aquatic nuisance species into our state’s lakes and rivers,” Holen said. “We’ve definitely seen an increase in awareness over the past decade.” 

North Dakota currently has low numbers of aquatic nuisance species. Other than zebra mussels, just a few invasive plants and animals – curly leaf pondweed, Eurasian watermilfoil, flowering rush, and grass, bighead, silver and common carp – are found in some state waters. 

To fight the introduction and spread of unwanted invasives, Holen said some of the shared burden falls on water users. The Game and Fish Department encourages anglers, pleasure boaters and others to clean, drain and dry all equipment after every use. Clean and remove all plants or animals from watercraft or equipment prior to leaving any recreational area. Drain and remove water from all equipment prior to exiting designated access points. Not draining water can be extremely hazardous and may cause negligent transportation of ANS to various locations. Afterwards, verify that all equipment is completely dry before using again. 

For more information on aquatic nuisance species, visit the department’s website at gf.nd.gov. 

New Legislation 

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department tracked 20 outdoors-related bills during the 2023 legislative session, 12 passed both chambers and signed into law. 

The following bills take effect Aug. 1, except Senate Bill 2297 carries an emergency clause, and House Bill 1538 begins the following licensing year, April 1, 2024. A complete list of bills is on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. 

HB 1014 – Provides an appropriation for defraying the expenses of the industrial commission and agencies under its control. This includes Outdoor Heritage Fund at $15 million. 

HB 1134 – Nonresident current North Dakota national guard members are eligible to receive resident licenses, except lottery permits. 

HB 1224 – Allows a dog handler to carry a handgun in the recovery of a big game animal while in the presence of a dog. The dog handler cannot use the handgun to assist in the recovery of the animal and must have permission from the landowner or individual authorized by the landowner before entering private land for the recovery of a big game animal. 

HB 1233 – Allows a 11-, 12- and 13-year-old antlerless white-tailed deer youth hunter to also hunt during the regular deer gun season. 

HB 1260 – Develops agreements to compensate private landowners for the development of habitat on private property for addressing fish and wildlife populations. In addition, allows the Game and Fish director to issue special antlerless elk depredation management licenses to landowners upon payment of the fee required for a resident big game license. To be eligible for this license, a landowner cannot charge a fee for elk hunting and must allow reasonable public access as determined by the director. 

HB 1366 – Allows an individual engaged in barefoot skiing or surfing to wear a wet suit. A life preserver must be on board the towing vessel for an individual barefoot skiing or surfing. 

HB 1409 – A nonresident youth who is less than 16 years of age may purchase a resident general game hunting license and may hunt small game and waterfowl, except swans and wild turkeys, during the entire regular small game and waterfowl seasons. The accompanying adult family member or legal guardian does not have to be licensed. 

HB 1538 – Relates to fishing. Established a $50 entry fee for a fishing contest, an application fee of $75 for all tournaments, a conservation fee of an amount to be determined between the tournament sponsor and a representative of the fishing tournament (except for nonprofits), post contest reporting requirements, Game and Fish establishes a fishery conservation fund, and a surcharge of $5 on each nonresident fishing license. Effective April 1, 2024. 

SB 2017 – Establishes an appropriation of $107,611,466 to the Game and Fish Department for the biennium beginning July 1, 2023, and ending June 30, 2025. 

SB 2097 – Requires a political subdivision to notify the Game and Fish director, among others, before engaging in meetings with federal agencies to have any water body in the state designated a wild, scenic or recreational river under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. 

SB 2297 – Certified game and fish volunteer instructors who have maintained active status in the state for 30 years are eligible to receive complimentary fishing and certain hunting licenses. Emergency clause carried; effective immediately. 

SB 2382 – Provides clarity to the motorboat numbering exemptions section of the North Dakota Century Code. 

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