Outdoors briefly

State record fish is a saugeye

Lab results confirm that Dan Faiman of Fairview, Mont., has set a new North Dakota state record for saugeye. Faiman caught the 12-pound, record fish on Jan. 16 from the Yellowstone River. Because the fish had identifying characteristics of both species, genetic material was sent to a lab to determine whether the fish was a walleye, sauger or saugeye, which is a cross between the two.

Faiman’s catch broke the previous record, set in 1984, by 4 ounces.

Family fishing days at OWLS

Family fishing days return this month to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site. The catch-and-release only fishery is stocked with trout, bluegill, largemouth bass, catfish and other species.

Family fishing days are Saturdays and Wednesdays through the end of August. Fishing equipment can be checked out at the OWLS Pond, located adjacent to the Department’s Bismarck office, on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Blue goose pontoon tours

Audubon National Wildlife Refuge will be offering two staff-guided, interpretive boat tours during June:

June 12 – Cormorant Colony Island Tour: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

A leisurely pontoon ride to Cormorant Colony Island provides visitors with a great view of the double-crested cormorants that congregate on the island to build nests of sticks and raise their young. Participants will enjoy identifying other birds along the way. In case of inclement weather, the tour will be rescheduled for June 14 at the same time.

June 19 – Duck Nest Tour: 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Enjoy a pontoon ride to Lake Audubon’s Pancake Island for an up-close look at duck nests and hopefully some young ducklings still in the nest. Participants will have the opportunity to candle duck eggs, learn about incubation and view several species of birds along the way. In case of inclement weather, the tour will be rescheduled for June 21 at the same time.

Many bird watching and wildlife photography opportunities exist during the tours, with common sightings including white pelicans, western grebes, Canada geese, a variety of ducks, bank swallows and white-tailed deer.

Visitors should wear sturdy shoes, long pants and long shirt sleeves, as walking will be on uneven ground, through wet grass and among insects during these events. Audubon Refuge will supply life jackets, binoculars and field guides for visitors to use. Visitors should arrive 15 minutes early to board the pontoon, which is located 1 mile in on the auto tour route. Pontoon tours will be cancelled if winds exceed 15 mph.

There is no charge for the boat tours, but visitors must call 442-5474, ext. 110, to pre-register for these events, as there is a 20-person limit for each tour. Audubon National Wildlife Refuge Office and Visitor Center is located 3 miles north of Coleharbor on U.S. Highway 83 and one mile east.

Lostwood Birding Festival Friday

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Lostwood Birding & Nature Association and Burke County Job Development Authority will host the Lostwood Birding Festival on Friday. This is a one-day event featuring guided tours and youth activities. The festival is a great opportunity for participants of any age to learn about birds and other wildlife at Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge.

The festival is held at the Refuge headquarters, located 16 miles south of Bowbells or 23 miles north of Stanley on North Dakota Highway 8. The festival will begin at 6 a.m. and will provide participants with a variety of opportunities to take hiking or bus tours on the refuge. There will be birding, wildlife, plant and youth-related tours. The festival will end at 1:30 p.m. Knowledgeable and experienced guides will lead each tour. All tours will depart from the Refuge headquarters. Refreshments will be provided near the refuge headquarters but all participants should pack their own lunch.

There is no charge for the festival but participants are asked to pre-register. To register or see a complete schedule of events go to (burkecountynd.org) and click on the link for the Lostwood Birding Festival. You can also register or request more information by calling the refuge office at 848-2722.

G&F pays $539k in property taxes

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently paid more than $539,000 in taxes to counties in which the department owns or leases land. The 2012 in-lieu-of-tax payments are the same as property taxes paid by private landowners. The Game and Fish Department manages more than 200,000 acres for wildlife habitat and public hunting in 51 counties. The department does not own or manage any land in Traill or Renville counties.