Outdoors briefly

Audubon Center open weekends

COLEHARBOR – Audubon National Wildlife Refuge is extending visitation hours, and invites the public to enjoy the visitor center, situated on the south side of Lake Audubon, near Coleharbor. In addition to regular business hours which include Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the visitor center will also be open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during June, July and August.

The visitor center features an exhibit hall, a “green” building tour, educational classroom and a gift shop, called the Prairie Pond Store.

The exhibit hall provides dioramas and informational panels that enhance the visitor’s understanding about Refuge history, wildlife and habitat management, migratory birds and the larger Prairie Pothole Region. The exhibits are an enticement, an invitation to explore the wetlands and expansive grasslands that provide food, water, shelter and space for over 246 species of birds, as well as many mammals, reptiles and amphibians that make the refuge their home.

The “green” building tour provides visitors an up-close look and explanation of how the building earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The educational classroom features a learning facility, as well as many hands-on wildlife items. Mammal skins, bird and mammal skulls, taxidermy mounts and more are available for visitors to touch and handle. Audubon National Wildlife Refuge Office and Visitor Center is located three miles north of Coleharbor on U.S. Highway 83, then one mile east.

Free Fishing Day today in N.D.

North Dakota anglers are reminded they can fish for free today. This is the weekend North Dakota residents may fish without a license. All other fishing regulations apply. Refer to the 2012-14 North Dakota Fishing Guide for season information.

Spring mule deer survey complete

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department conducted its annual spring mule deer survey in April and results indicate western North Dakota’s mule deer population increased 15 percent from last year. However, the 2013 spring mule deer index is still 22 percent lower than the long-term average.

Bruce Stillings, big game supervisor, said the increase is a result of no antlerless deer harvested in 2012, and relatively mild winter conditions across much of mule deer range.

“It’s encouraging, but challenges remain for further population growth, including changes in habitat, energy development, predators and weather patterns,” Stillings said.

The population change from 2012 was not consistent across the entire mule deer range. Stillings said hunting unit 4F in the southern portion of the badlands stayed the same, while the core mule deer range covering hunting units 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E had a healthy increase. The northernmost mule deer unit, 4A, experienced a substantial population decline.

Overall mule deer density in the badlands was 5.3 deer per square mile, which is up from 4.6 deer per square mile in 2012, but less than the long-term average of 6.8 deer per square mile.

Workshops on tap for educators

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is announcing its summer schedule of conservation workshops for educators.

National Archery in the Schools: June 4-5, Nishu Bow Range in Bismarck – Workshop participants are provided the fundamentals to teach archery in grades 4-12, either indoors or outdoors, and will be able to implement an archery unit in the classroom and an after-school activity. A pre-registration fee of $10 payable to North Dakota Bow Hunters Association is required. Register by calling Jeff Long, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, at 328-6322.

Science Resources for Elementary Educators: June 19-20, North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck – This workshop provides participants with an overview of resources available to educators, including Wildlife of North Dakota, Elementary Aquatic Education and Habitats of North Dakota. Sponsored by the Lake Region Teacher Center.

Birds of North Dakota: June 26-27, North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck – Teachers completing this workshop will have a basis for teaching bird studies relevant to North Dakota by integrating life science techniques with visual arts found in the Lewis and Clark journals. Links will be made between birds and their habits. Materials meet North Dakota curriculum standards. Registration fee of $40 is done through the Bismarck Art and Galleries Association website or by calling 223-5986.

Information for each workshop is available by contacting Sherry Niesar at 527-3714.